Texting and Driving: A Dangerous Practice Costing Lives

| April 15, 2016 | Comments (0)

Texting & Driving Awareness

Texting and driving is becoming a huge problem throughout Texas and the U.S., and lawmakers are still struggling to rectify the issue. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and I wanted to take this time to briefly address the issue.

Since the late 2000s, texting while driving has gained a lot of attention as the amount of text messages sent and recieved has increased exponentially. According to a one source, an estimated 23% of car accidents in 2011 were caused by distracted driving (roughly 1.3 million crashes). Today, collisions caused by drivers who were distracted has risen to 25%.

To give drivers a little perspective, I offer this example: if you’re looking at your phone for 5 seconds while you’re traveling at 55 miles per hour, that’s the same as driving the length of a football field without looking at road once. This habit, which has become commonplace for many drivers, is costing many innocent people their lives.

Texting and Driving Bans in Texas

In Texas, 1 in 5 accidents involves driver distraction, which includes the utilization of cell phones—regardless of whether or not a hands-free device is used. Currently, Texas does not have a statewide ban on cell phone usage while driving, although, 46 states across the U.S. have banned the practice.

Cell Phone Restrictions Across Texas

Texas has put in place some cell phone restrictions to help decrease the number of distracted driving-related accidents. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), there are three type of cell phone restrictions:

  • Bans on uses of handheld wireless devices while driving.
  • Texting while driving bans.
  • Bans on texting while driving and the use of all other types of wireless communications devices while driving.

TxDOT states that drivers with learners permits are prohibited from handheld cell phone usage during the first six months of driving. Furthermore, drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to use any type of wireless communications devices while operating their vehicles.

Although these bans pertain mostly to teenagers—who are more likely to use an electric device while driving—restrictions have also been placed on other individuals. For example, school bus drivers are prohibited from using a cell phone if children are aboard the bus. Additionally, all drivers entering a school zone are banned from making phone calls or texting while driving.

Penalties for Violating Cell Phone Bans

Failing to follow state laws and local ordinances in regard to texting while driving will result in fines, which can range from $100 to $500 (sometimes more) depending upon the city and the severity.

In November of 2009, Austin became the first city in Texas to enforce a city-wide ban on texting and driving. Since then, over 60 other cities have followed suit. Additionally, Texas lawmakers have already vowed to push another statewide law banning the practice during the next legislative session.

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