Texas Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, is attempting once again to get a statewide ban on cell phone use while driving through the state legislature. According to the representative, Texas is only one of four states that does not have a distracted driving law. Currently, Texas bans young drivers and bus drivers from using mobile phones while behind the wheel, and close to 100 cities have banned cell phone use while operating a vehicle at a municipal level. However, Craddick and others believe this is not enough to save lives and they want all texting while driving to be illegal.
Distracted Driving Crashes in Texas
Craddick may be right as 476 people were killed in crashes that involved distracted driving in 2015. This was a slight increase from the year before, according to the Texas Motor Vehicle Traffic Crash Facts. Additionally, 4,148 accidents in Austin last year were related to distracted driving, KXAN reported. This is despite the fact that Austin is one of the cities that bans hand-held devices through a local ordinance. In Austin, if you are found using a hand-held device you could be fined up to $500.
House Bill 62 would modify Texas’ Transportation Code to make texting while driving a criminal offense and would alter the penalty for the offense. Under the law, any driver who used a portable wireless communication device to read, write, or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle that is in motion would be guilty of an offense. This would include not only texts, but receiving and sending pictures, videos, and emails.
An offense under this section would be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine between $25 and $99. However, if the driver has a previous offense under this law, then they will be fined between $100 and $200.
A Focus on Education
Additionally, Craddick’s bill would tackle distraction before it starts. He understands how common it is for teenagers to use their cell phones while driving because they may think they are invincible. They know that distracted driving causes accidents, but they never believe it will happen to them. HB 62 would require the driver’s exam to test a potential driver’s knowledge of the effects of using cell phones and becoming distracted while driving.
Personal Injury Lawsuits Due to Texting While Driving
If you were injured in an accident caused by a person texting while driving, you may be able to recover through a personal injury lawsuit. Even if texting while driving was not illegal where the collision occurred, the driver’s distraction due to being on their cell phone may be enough to prove negligence under the law. All drivers have the duty to operate their vehicles safely, and hand-held cell phone use not related to an emergency is not a safe practice.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney for Help
When you are hurt by a distracted driver, you deserve to have your day in court and be compensated for your physical, financial, and emotional injuries. The experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorneys of The Bettersworth Law Firm can help you understand your rights after a crash. If filing a lawsuit is best for you, we will aggressively represent you in court.