Even with laws against texting and driving, it continues to be a major problem. People check their phones seemingly every few seconds, even when they are driving a car. Collisions caused by drivers distracted by their use of a mobile phone or tablet are not slowing down, despite the laws in place to make the action illegal.
What are the laws with texting and driving?
Most of the states in this country have laws prohibiting some sort of use of your phone while driving a vehicle. Texas laws prohibit the use of a phone in any way while driving, but only if you are under the age of 18. This includes the use of hands-free devices. Of course, this law is inadequate because no Texas law explicitly prohibits drivers over the age of 18 from scanning Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other social media or even streaming movies or TV shows!
Texas law forbids the use of a phone while you are in a school zone, unless you are using a hands-free device.
Some Texas cities have enacted ordinances with broader bans on mobile phone use, but because they are, by definition, city ordinances, they do not apply statewide and are not consistent across the state. Some cities completely ban the use of cell phones, regardless of the driver’s age or where the vehicle is driven within that city. Some of the bigger cities in Texas have this law are as follows: Arlington, Austin, El Paso, Galveston, and San Antonio. Many more have the same rules and are positively influencing their smaller populations with them.
One thing that is consistent across the state is prohibiting drivers from text messaging. This includes sending SMS messages or using apps including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and iMessage.
Violations of these laws may subject the offender to criminal prosecution. Of course, Texas’s laws that permit certain uses of cell phones do not bar recovery in a civil lawsuit against a driver distracted by his or her use of a mobile phone. If a person who causes a wreck is found to have been using his or her phone, a Texas jury is likely to find that the distracted driver was negligent. Our attorneys and investigators at the Sloan Firm know how to secure the evidence to prove whether the driver that caused your wreck was distracted by his/her phone.
The Texas Legislature banned texting while driving, because there is no fooling around with when it is okay and when it is not. There is never a safe time to be texting and driving. Your focus will be on the message, regardless of road conditions. If there is someone else in the car, you can easily to pass the phone to them and have them respond to the message. If not, you can wait when you hear that beep and respond to it when you get when you are going. If you think that it might be important, then it is worthy of pulling over and responding. Not only is texting back a problem, but reading messages is just as bad.
The Sloan Firm encourages drivers to use the in-vehicle systems on newer cars that include an electronic voice that reads text messages to drivers and/or to turn on the “Do Not Disturb While Driving” setting on their smartphones. If you must respond, simply call the person using a hands-free device.
Why do people continue to text and drive even with laws in place?
Distracted driving caused by mobile phone use is both a relatively new phenomenon and a public health crisis. Although laws can be quickly passed, consumer behavior often lags.
For example, 472 years passed between the discovery of tobacco by Europeans in 1492 and the US Surgeon General’s 1964 report connecting smoking with an increased risk of cancer. Cigarette smoking declined thereafter, but slowly. Almost 79 years passed between the introduction of the Ford Model T and the date when the first Texas law banning open containers of alcohol in automobiles took effect. Distracted driving is deadly–if not more so— than smoking cigarettes or driving while intoxicated. Enacting laws is merely the first step to changing driver behavior.
If you find yourself in a collision due to someone’s negligence by texting and driving, the Sloan Firm can make sure you get the help you deserve. Our team understands the laws regarding distracted driving and every member of the team is ready to fight for you against such a needless act. Reach out to The Sloan Firm today.