FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2013-01-10
These days, cellphones play a huge role in nearly everyone’s lives. All of this connectedness and access to information has a lot of benefits. Unfortunately, it also makes it much more difficult to break away from our devices when we need to.
Nowhere is this more evident than in scourge of distracted driving accidents that are plaguing Texas roads. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 20 percent of injury-causing car crashes in the United States in 2009 were caused by distracted driving. That year in Texas, cellphone use and other forms of driver distraction contributed to more than 100,000 car accidents, 408 of which were fatal.
Much of the risk lies in the fact that drivers aren’t aware of just how dangerous distracted driving really is. Next time you think about picking up your phone while driving, consider these facts published by the NHTSA:
- Drivers who use a handheld device are four times more likely to be involved in a serious accident
- Drivers who send or read text messages have a crash risk that is 23 times higher than drivers who are not distracted
- Driving while using a cellphone reduces a driver’s focus on the road by 37 percent
- At highway speeds, sending or reading a text message is equivalent to driving blindfolded down the length of a football field.
Texas Distracted Driving Laws
Unfortunately, the law in Texas hasn’t kept up with the severity of the problem. Although a few cities — including San Antonio and Galveston — have banned texting while driving, state law does not.
Under Texas law, only school bus drivers and novice drivers are prohibited from using cellphones or texting while driving. In addition, it is against the law for any driver to text or use a handheld cellphone while driving through a school zone.
In 2011, the Texas Legislature passed a bill banning texting while driving throughout the state, but that legislation was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry. Texas is one of only 11 states that have not prohibited texting while driving.
Pursuing Personal Injury Lawsuits
Of course, the fact that there is no ban on texting does not mean that Texans injured in distracted driving accidents are without options. Even though texting is not illegal, it is still extremely irresponsible.
When an accident is caused by another driver’s negligence, injured victims can seek financial compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. Personal injury claims allow accident victims to seek damages for a number of losses including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you or a loved one has been injured in a distracted driving accident, a Texas personal injury lawyer can help you understand your options.