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Texas Laws Against Distracted Driving

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

The Texas Department of Transportation finds distracted driving to be such a problem they have instituted a distracted driving awareness campaign called Talk. Text. Crash.About one in five crashes on Texas roads were due to distracted driving in 2020 — and sadly, the consequence was 364 people died and 2,200 were severely injured. Despite distracted driving laws in Texas, these alarming statistics prove that Texans have a long way to go in preventing these deadly accidents. Knowing the distracted driving laws in Texas can help all of us do our part in preventing distracted driving crashes. Here's what every driver needs to know.

What Constitutes Distracted Driving in Texas?

The Texas Department of Transportation defines distracted driving as any activity that takes attention away from the road. Distracted driving may include the following:

  • Talking or texting on the phone
  • Eating or drinking while driving
  • Putting on makeup
  • Grooming such as shaving, combing your hair
  • Reading
  • Programming a navigation system
  • Watching videos
  • Adjusting the radio

Do Hands-Free Devices Limit Distractions While Driving?

This answer to this question is — not necessarily. According to SafeWise, using a hands-free device might be a little less distracting than texting or holding your phone while talking. However, it can still take your focus off of the road and put you at risk of being involved in a severe crash. Here are some tips to help you prevent distracted driving behaviors:

  • While driving, always stay fully attentive and focused on the road.
  • If talking or texting is necessary, pull over to a complete stop on the side of the road before engaging.
  • Ward off the temptation to use your phone by putting it away, turning it off, or using an app to block calls and texts while you're driving. You can also set up your phone up to send auto-replies while you are driving.
  • Let your family, friends, and co-workers know that you do not respond to texts or calls while driving.

Distracted Driving Laws in Texas

The evolution of distracted driving laws first started in Washington state back in 2007. Subsequently, many other states in the US followed suit shortly after banning texting while driving. However, Texas has been about ten years behind the curve with distracted driving laws. It wasn't until just under four years ago, on September 1, 2017, that it became illegal to read, write, or send a text while driving in Texas. Texas is the 47th state to ban texting while driving. Here are the current distracted driving mandates in Texas:

  • Drivers are not permitted to engage in electronic messaging, including texting, emailing, and instant messages, while driving.
  • Drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to use wireless communication devices.
  • Drivers over the age of 18 with a learner's permit are not permitted to use hand-held cell phones in their first six months of driving.
  • School bus operators are not allowed to use cell phones while driving whenever children are present.
  • Drivers are not allowed to use hand-held devices when passing school zones.

What are the Exceptions to Distracted Driving Laws in Texas?

There are some exceptions to distracted driving laws in Texas, such as the following:

  • Drivers under 18 or an adult with learner's permits can use wireless devices to make emergency calls to emergency response services such as:
    • Hospitals.
    • Fire Departments.
    • Health Clinics.
    • Doctors' offices.
    • Police Departments.
    • Person's who can administer first aid treatments
  • Texting is permitted when using voice-to-text, hands-free technology.
  • Use of a GPS or other navigation systems is permitted.
  • Drivers may use their hands to initiate and activate a function on their device to play music.
  • Distracted driving laws do not apply to drivers who are operating an authorized emergency vehicle or using a device while acting in an official capacity.
  • Drivers in Texas are permitted to send and receive messages while at a red light.

Distracted Driving Facts

According to the latest data from the National HighwayTraffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted drivers claimed the lies of 3,142 people in 2019. The following are some alarming statistics:

  • 9% of fatal crashes in 2019 involved distracted drivers.
  • Over 26,000 lives were claimed in distracted driving crashes from 2012 to 2019.
  • Since 2007 drivers aged 16 to 24 years of age have been distracted by devices at higher rates than other drivers.

Texting and driving is the number one distraction and sending or reading a text take your eyes off the road for 5 seconds — which is equivalent to driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

Involved in a Distracted Driving Accident? We Can Help.

Distracted driving accidents are preventable. When someone carelessly decides to use their cell phone or exhibits other distracted driving behaviors, it can make the situation much more frustrating after sustaining a severe injury. Not only can distracted driving pose fatal consequences, but it can also put a severely injured victim at risk of life-long medical and financial burdens.

If you or a loved one has suffered severe injuries in a distracted driving accident, you have the right to pursue compensation. When it comes to protecting your rights and holding the responsible parties accountable for their actions, we'll be on your side every step of the way and support you through a difficult time.

Contact } today at (361) 238-2789 to learn how we can help you seek justice.