You don’t have to be an expert to know that distracted driving has become a problem on Texas roadways. When driving down the road, you may have seen several drivers with a cellphone up to their ears or bobbing their heads up and down, as they switch their attention between the road and the text message they are reading or composing. As a result of these dangerous behaviors, you may have seen such drivers weave in and out of their lanes or rear-end the car in front of them.
Your suspicion that distracted driving is a problem is statistically confirmed. According to a 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control, 69 percent of motorists between the ages of 18 and 64 admitted to talking on their cellphones while driving within the last month. Additionally, 31 percent admitted to sending or reading a text message during the same period. Although Texas has passed legislation to address the threat, recently released research indicates that the laws in place do not go far enough to protect motorists in Texas.
Effectiveness of Texas laws limited
In Texas, the distracted driving law as it stands prohibits young drivers under age 18 and school bus drivers from using cellphones of any type or texting and driving. However, drivers not within this rather limited group may engage in either activity in most areas of Texas (some cities have distracted driving ordinances), provided that it is not done while in a school zone. A recent study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham indicated that the lack of a comprehensive ban on these activities might cause Texas drivers to not be as safe as they could.
The study focused on the effectiveness in various types of distracted driving laws in reducing fatal car accidents. It found that primary laws that banned texting among drivers in the 15 to 21-year-old age group were the most effective at reducing fatalities. Such bans led to an 11 percent reduction in traffic deaths in this age group. This is good news for Texas, although its laws leave out about half of the people in this age group, since it applies only to drivers in the 15 to 18-year-old group.
According to the study, distracted driving laws such as the ones in Texas are not as effective for preventing traffic deaths among older drivers. The study concluded that states having primary and secondary bans on texting while driving did not see a significant reduction in fatalities among drivers between ages 21 and 64. However, states that had enacted primary and secondary bans against handheld cellphone use, saw significant decreases in adult traffic fatalities. Since Texas’ laws only ban novice and bus drivers from using handheld cellphones, the study’s finding suggest that the current laws regarding cellphone use may be too narrow to achieve their maximum safety benefit.
Consult an attorney
According to state police data, cellphone use was a contributing factor in 3,283 accidents in Texas during 2012. However, law enforcement thinks that this figure is vastly understated, due to driver inclinations to lie about their cellphone use when involved in an accident. Because of this fact, many accidents caused by cellphone use are not coded as a distracted driving accident, which conceals the much higher number of such accidents that exist in reality.
Regardless of the fact that the current distracted driving law condones cellphone and texting among most drivers, if a distracted driver injures you, they may be held civilly liable for their negligence. An experienced motor vehicle accident attorney can ensure that the cause of the accident is thoroughly investigated and that you receive all compensation due to you by law.