Studies by The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute have shown that texting while driving is more dangerous than drunk driving: someone texting while driving is 23 times more likely to be in an accident than other drivers. "Distracted driving" studies by the CDC report that 69% of drivers in the United States ages 18-64 reported that they had talked on their cell phone while driving within the 30 days before they were surveyed and 31% of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 reported that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before they were surveyed.
The Insurance Information Institute identified drivers ages 18-24 as the group most likely to text or use a cell phone while driving. Teenage girls were more likely than boys to use their phones behind the wheel. Since teens especially lack advanced driving skills, they are the least equipped to deal with this type of distraction.
Every time drivers send or receive a text, their eyes are off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. During this time a driver who is going 55 mph could cover an entire football field, placing everyone in that area at potentially risk of becoming involved in a serious distracted driving crash. Texting while driving is dangerous not just to the texter, but also to innocent people on the road who could be injured or killed by a driver who isn’t paying attention.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has strongly suggested to lawmakers throughout the U.S. that a blanket ban on texting and driving would both save lives and reduce the accident risk. However, no federal law exists and the Texas governor has vetoed a bill that would have imposed a statewide ban on texting for all drivers. this means that drivers in Texas are allowed to text and drive unless they fall into one of a few categories. Section 545.424 of the Texas Code prohibits drivers under age 18 from using any type of wireless communication device while driving; Texas also places limits on school bus drivers (can’t use their cell phone when children are on the bus), drivers in school zones (cannot use a wireless communication device) and drivers with a learner’s permit (six-month moratorium on using cell phones when they first learn how to drive).
Texas State laws on texting and driving basically entail:
- Ban on all cell phone (handheld and Hands-free) for bus drivers (Primary law)
- Ban on all cell phone (handheld and Hands-free) for novice drivers (Primary law)
- Ban on texting for novice drivers (Primary law)
- Ban on texting for bus drivers (Primary law)
- Ban on the use of hand-held phones and texting in school zones
Additionally, some Texas cities and counties have local bans on texting while driving: these include Dallas, Austin, Amarillo and San Antonio.
Even though texting while driving is not specifically illegal for all motorists in Texas, reckless driving is. According to the Texas Transportation Code, reckless driving is defined as operating a motor vehicle with "willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property". In reckless driving, the driver does not intend to cause harm but still sees the possibility of harm, taking the risk anyway. Recklessness involves a greater degree of fault than negligence but a lesser degree of fault than intentional wrongdoing.
In 2011, the Texas Department of Transportation reported 81,000 crashes involving driver distraction or inattention. Statewide, roughly 3,000 people are killed in auto accidents annually and over 200,000 are injured. With one reportable crash occurring on Texas roadways every 83 seconds, thousands of accident victims and their loved ones are in need of medical care, property repair, and legal counsel each year. Drivers who fail to show a reasonable degree of care when driving can be sued and made to pay damages in a personal injury claim, and victims have a legal right to claim damages and compensation.
Brent Cordell has extensive experience with auto accident claims, and is committed to serving individuals who have suffered personal injuries due to the dangerous or negligent acts of another. He can help you to prove that a driver was unreasonably careless by texting while driving. Contact us at www.cordell-law.com or call 1-844-8LEGAL8 (1-844-853-4258) for a free consultation.