Texting and driving has become a serious, deadly problem in the United States, which is why it should come as no surprise that Texas just passed a new law making texting and driving illegal statewide. Prior to this law, Texas had relatively loose laws pertaining to drivers who are caught texting while behind the wheel. On June 6th, 2017, Texas Governor announced that he had signed House Bill 62, which will make texting while driving anywhere in the state illegal. Under the new law, the penalties of texting and driving are as follows:
- First-time offenders: Punishable by a fine of $25-$99
- Repeat offenders: Punishable by a fine of $100-$200
Furthermore, the new law states that an accident that results in death or serious bodily injury of another person and the driver who was texting is at fault is punishable by a Class A misdemeanor and fines up to $4,000 as well as jail time of up to a year. The new law only pertains to a driver who reads, writes, or sends a text message via their cell phone while manning a vehicle. This is important to make note of because it does not address stricter cell phone bans (such as hands-free laws) that many cities throughout the nation have implemented. Governor Abbott’s texting ban will go into effect September 1, 2017. Over the years lawmakers throughout Texas have battled over the need for a texting ban. While those in opposition say there is not enough evidence to support the need for the law, Gov. Abbott’s decision shows that the evidence is clearly there.
The Dangers of Texting While Driving
According to TxDOT, 1 in 5 accidents in Texas are now caused by distracted driving, specifically texting while driving. In 2016, there were nearly 110,000 accidents in Texas involving distracted driving – which is up 3 percent from 2015. As a result, more than 3,000 people were seriously injured and 455 lost their lives. A study conducted by Zendrive ranked Texas as the 17th worst state for phone-distracted drivers. The report found that during an hour long trip, drivers between the ages of 18 and 35 spent an average of 3.5 minutes on their phones.
Many drivers have admitted to using their phone to listen to music, check social media, or simply remain reachable. Even those who never actually pick up their phones while driving are putting themselves, passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers at risk. Experts note that drivers who have their phones out are far more likely to be involved in an accident due to distraction. While many drivers admit that they know how dangerous it is to text while driving, they still do it.
Thanks to Gov. Abbott and House Bill 62, the state of Texas is hoping to curb accidents that occur as a result of texting. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a driver who was texting or otherwise distracted by their phone, contact Rad Law Firm today. Our Dallas car accident attorneys are prepared to help you navigate your legal rights and ensure that the person responsible for your injuries is held accountable. Those who choose to look at their phones or text while driving should be held accountable and liable for their actions, and our attorneys will get the job done.