Is Texting and Driving Illegal in Texas?
Almost everyone has cell phones nowadays, and they have completely changed many aspects of people's lives, including driving.
Using a hands-free device can be very dangerous when someone is driving, especially if they're texting on electronic messaging apps.
The state of Texas is frequently the home of numerous catastrophes due to distracted driving. In this article, people will learn what they must know on the matter and understand why contacting an attorney is crucial. Schuerger Shunnarah can answer questions like, "Is brake checking illegal in Texas?"
Distracted Drivers Are a Serious Threat to Road Safety
A report by the National Highway Safety Administration concluded that there were 3,142 deaths related to distracted driving accidents in a recent year.
Unfortunately, distracted driving accidents happen when someone loses sight of the road to look at their cell phones for a few seconds. At almost all times, this could have been avoided.
The Truth About Distracted Driving Collisions
A distracted driving accident with fatalities is a senseless loss of life. Even so, no one is immune to sneaking a peek at their cell phones while they're behind the wheel.
Initially, texting and driving was mostly a behavior seen in risky, careless, and irresponsible teenagers.
However, distracted driving statistics now show that it has bloomed into a problem that spans all generations of screen users and drivers.
Teenagers and new drivers are still the higher-risk groups. Nonetheless, adults of all ages can engage in different forms of distracted driving, and most of them involve cell phone usage.
Many states have enacted strict laws that prohibit texting while driving, and they seek to reduce the frequency of tragic accidents.
Currently, 48 out of the 50 states have laws against distracted driving laws. Moreover, 25 of these states have taken things one step further by prohibiting the use of all hand-held devices while behind the wheel.
The enactment of the texting-while-driving laws is a step in the right direction to prevent fatal accidents. Even so, the issue is still a serious threat to passengers and drivers in the state of Texas.
What Does the Texas Department of Transportation Say?
Currently, Texas law specifies different things when it comes to texting and driving. The state has not enacted any blanket ban on the use of handheld devices behind the wheel, but there are individual ordinances in the Lone Star State that ban cell phone usage for drivers.
Consequently, Texas drivers should be familiar with the state's phone laws and with local jurisdictions that may affect them. Here's an overview of what they consist of:
Texting while driving is illegal. It's specified as the act of sending or receiving text messages when the person is behind the wheel.
Handheld cell phone use is banned when driving through a school zone.
Drivers with learner's permits can't use their phones at all within the first six months of driving.
All drivers younger than 18 cannot use any handheld devices while driving.
Bus drivers can't use handheld devices at all when there are children in the vehicle.
Can Someone Use Their Cell Phone at All?
Texas drivers can use their phones, just not for texting. Sending text messages and emails is illegal, but the law still permits other actions that involve cell phone use. Unfortunately, these can be just as dangerous.
The Texas texting and driving law, for example, does not allow people to text while driving, but this does not apply when the vehicle is stopped. Therefore, nothing stops drivers from sending texts at a stop sign or a red light.
Distracted Driving of All Kinds Is a Threat to Safety
Texting at red lights and stop signs can put pedestrians, cyclists, and other people at risk of accidents since drivers will lose focus while they're on their phones. Once the traffic lights change, they'll have to quickly redirect their attention, becoming more susceptible to making poor decisions.
Similarly, in the state of Texas, there is no blanket ban on a person using a device with their hands while driving. Therefore, drivers can talk on the phone, play music, and program a GPS.
Some cities have enacted bans on these activities in Texas. However, the lack of state law prohibitions means people in many areas engage in dangerous and potentially fatal distracted driving behaviors that involve cell phones.
The Limitations of Texas Handheld Device Laws While Driving
Unfortunately, the loopholes and overall patchwork of laws for distracted drivers in Texas can create confusion. In the end, they might interfere with achieving the goal of deterring cell phone use while behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Theoretically, a law enforcement officer in Texas can pull a distracted driver over and issue a citation for texting while behind the wheel.
Nonetheless, the law's permissiveness in terms of overall cell phone use and its conditioning of the same behavior on the driver's age make real-world enforcement inconsistent and very difficult.
In practice, numerous screen-related car accidents happen every day in Texas, putting drivers, passengers, and the general public at risk of catastrophic injuries and death.
Distracted Driving Is More Than Just Sending a Text
Distracted driving laws in Texas and the public awareness campaigns by the Texas Department of Public Transportation primarily focus on texting and cell phone use.
However, that's a narrow focus and it ignores that driver distraction can come in many forms. Cell phone use of any kind can be very dangerous.
Furthermore, according to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC), a lot of distracted driving happens when the person is not even holding a cell phone. School bus drivers are a special case because they're putting children at risk when they engage in careless and potentially dangerous behaviors.
The following are some examples of non-cell-phone-related distracted driving:
Talking to passengers, especially to people in the rear seat.
Reaching for objects on the floor.
Programming a dashboard or GPS or tuning the radio.
Drinking or eating.
Checking makeup or hair in a handheld mirror.
Playing music so loud that it's impossible to hear sounds outside the car.
Singing along to music too enthusiastically.
None of the previous behaviors are illegal in Texas, but all of them are technically distracted driving and could lead to a crucial loss of attention, which can, in turn, end up in a tragic accident. If it does, and there are victims, they can contact a lawyer to defend them.
Why Is Distracted Driving So Dangerous?
There is a pattern of distracted driving crashes in Texas, and it has partly resulted from the relentless tug of distractions for drivers of all ages. The situation only worsened with the intrusion of different portable wireless communication device alternatives in people's lives.
Each day, at least 100 people die in the United States due to distracted driving. In Texas alone, the Department of Transportation reported that in 2019, 97,000 accidents were because of that. During that year, 378 people lost their lives and 2,500 sustained severe injuries.
Catastrophic injuries and senseless deaths can inflict significant physical and emotional damage on Texas residents. Therefore, it's up to drivers to do their part and prevent these issues, and one way to do that is to hold drivers accountable for actions that result in crashes.
Consequences of Distracted Driving - Should People Pursue Damages?
When someone is a victim of a distracted driver's negligent actions, they might suffer injuries that represent a significant change in their lives.
Unfortunately, using a cell phone while driving can cause something as tragic as a death or permanent disability. Many other consequences can be the result of this reckless behavior.
Distracted driving laws protect people from the actions of others, but not everyone is responsible when they get behind the wheel. Therefore, texting while driving is still a common issue in Texas.
Even though using a cell phone while behind the wheel can turn into a catastrophic accident, victims may have the legal right to sue if they can prove the other driver was negligent.
When victims are able to show evidence that the other party was texting while driving, they could receive compensation. In many cases, money is not the solution to the person's problems, especially if they lost a loved one or are now disabled for life due to the accident.
However, distracted driving laws still state that victims can sue, and they should. Nonetheless, they mustn't pursue legal action unless they get help from a specialized lawyer.
Financial Liability for Distracted Driving Accidents
All drivers, regardless of age or experience behind the wheel, must care for passengers, other motorists, and the public. They shouldn't engage in potentially dangerous, risky, or careless behaviors because accidents are more likely to happen that way.
At the same time, school bus operators need to be even more careful because they're driving a vehicle full of kids.
Even so, neither school bus drivers nor anyone else should engage in dangerous activities while behind the wheel, and texting while driving is one of them.
When someone is driving a motor vehicle and gets distracted, others might end up getting hurt or dying. The driver who engaged in negligent behavior can end up owing compensation to the victims of the accident.
Texting and driving involve unreasonably dangerous behavior in Texas, and it could cause an accident and lead to liability for the at-fault parties.
In other words, accident victims who got hurt due to the negligent actions of distracted drivers have a right to sue for damages according to Texas law. When they take legal action to seek compensation, they could get a settlement to pay for the following:
Physical pain, emotional suffering, loss of companionship of a loved one, loss of enjoyment of life, and many other non-monetary damages.
Medical bills related to past, present, and future care related to accident injuries.
Other expenses stemming from the texting-while-driving accident, such as property damage.
Loss of income and missing work, which is often the result of accident injuries or disabilities that prevent victims from returning to their regular activities.
How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help People
Driving laws exist to protect everyone. If a person driving a motor vehicle actively disregards what they must do when they're behind the wheel and engages in reckless behaviors, victims could pursue legal action to receive compensation for the damage they caused.
When someone is in a texting-while-driving accident, they should contact 911. Professionals will get there (probably an ambulance too), and a police officer might approach victims to ask them what happened.
People should be honest, and if they have proof to show the other party was texting and driving, they should immediately contact a lawyer to help them file a claim.
Using cell phones while behind the wheel can cause catastrophes ranging from mild injuries to traumatic, disabling ones, and even death. Nonetheless, Houston car accident attorneys are experts in texting-while-driving laws in Texas, so they know the best course of action to take to make sure their clients get positive results.
Victims shouldn't have to suffer due to the actions of a negligent, distracted driver. At the same time, it's unfair for them to pay for medical bills stemming from a crash that wasn't their fault.
Attorneys know driving law and will assess the person's case, helping them put together a strong argument that allows them to have the best chances of winning in court.
In some cases, if victims have sufficient proof that the other party was using a handheld cell phone, the distracted driver might not want to go to trial because they know they'll probably lose.
Therefore, they might want to settle, offering victims financial compensation for the serious injuries they caused. If this happens, people should only take it if the amount is fair for the pain and suffering they've been through. Schuerger Shunnarah can also advise on questions like, "Is it illegal to drive barefoot in Texas?"
Hiring Experienced Lawyers Today
At Schuerger Shunnarah, attorneys are experts in the driving law of the Lone Star State. Their motto is "We go to war for you," so they're ready to passionately defend clients who suffered serious injuries or the loss of a loved one due to someone else's distracted driving.