We know that distracted driving is a growing problem. Handheld devices offer more options at our fingertips that extend beyond making phone calls or sending text messages. Distracted driving involves more than using the phone, however.
Any activity that causes visual, manual, or cognitive distraction can significantly increase the risk of a crash. Everywhere we look, we see drivers on the phone, eating, drinking, or multitasking.
Personal finance website MoneyGeek recently conducted a study to find out how prevalent distracted driving is in each state. Researchers analyzed federal crash statistics from 2017-2018. Texas ranked No. 9 out of the 25 worst states for distracted driving. Here's why:
- 758 Texas traffic fatalities were linked to distracted driving from 2017-2018.
- Texas has a distracted driving fatality rate of 1.37 per billion miles traveled.
State texting and driving ban vs. local ordinances
Several states have passed laws banning all smartphone uses while driving. Texas, unfortunately, isn't one of them.
Under state law:
- Texas drivers can't send or receive text messages behind the wheel.
- Drivers can't use cellphones in school zones.
- Drivers under age 18, drivers with learner's permits, and school bus drivers can't use cellphones (while operating a motor vehicle).
Ordinances may differ from one Texas community to the next.
Under Laredo's city ordinance, drivers are prohibited from using handheld devices while their cars are in motion or temporarily stopped. That means drivers can't make phone calls or use any other cellphone features unless it is done so through a hands-free or voice-activated device.
An affirmative defense may apply if:
- They were lawfully parked (doesn't include being stopped in traffic).
- They were driving on private property.
- The cellphone was connected to a hands-free device.
- Cellphone use was emergency related.
Can traffic laws prevent distracted driving in Texas?
A cellphone ban might help curb distracted driving in Texas, but it won't eliminate it entirely. Drivers violate traffic laws frequently by speeding, driving drunk, and running red lights. Despite the laws, drivers will continue to text and drive. Moreover, state and local traffic laws don't apply to all forms of distracted driving. Drivers who take their hands off the wheel, eyes off the road, and attention away from the task of driving for any reason frequently endanger other road users.
Car accident attorney John R. Solis has represented injured motorists in the Laredo area for more than a decade. He has seen the damage caused by distracted drivers: crash victims severely injured or even killed. He'll work tirelessly to help you and your family pursue the justice you deserve.
Contact John R. Solis to schedule your free case evaluation or simply call 866-465-9093.