Distracted driving is incredibly dangerous for everybody on the roadway. As long as there have been vehicles, distracted driving has been a problem. However, as cell phones become more and more a part of our lives, they also become more of a danger on the roadway. One of the most commonly asked questions is – Is it illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving in Texas?
According to state government statistics, one out of every five crashes involves driver distraction. Due to the increase in distracted driving caused by phones, in 2017, the Texas legislature passed a statewide ban on using any wireless communication device from being used for electronic messaging while operating a motor vehicle.
However, the law does not prohibit talking on a cell phone while driving in Texas. While the state legislature has debated on mandating the use of hands-free devices when talking on the phone and driving in the state, they have not yet passed any laws pertaining to that issue. The only groups of people that are prohibited entirely from using wireless communication devices while driving are:
The 2017 law passed in Texas focused on prohibiting drivers from sending or receiving text messages, as well as reading or writing emails, while driving their vehicles. This is obviously a good step to take in order to curb distracted driving in the state, but does this law go far enough?
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were approximately 250,000 people injured and 3,639 fatalities due to traffic accidents during the latest reporting year in the state. However, the Texas DOT also breaks down known distracted driver crashes. During that same reporting year, there were 96,151 total distraction driving car crashes. Out of these incidents, there were:
Injuries caused by distracted driving crashes are often severe. It is not uncommon for the following to occur due to a distracted driving incident:
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured each day due to distracted driving incidents. The CDC defines distracted driving is anything that takes a person’s attention away from operating the vehicle.
According to the CDC, sending or receiving a text message regularly causes the person to take their eyes off the road for five seconds. When driving at 55 mph, that is enough time for the driver to cover the length of a football field. How many other vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians are put into danger during those five seconds the driver is not watching the roadway? Worse, with hundreds of vehicles on the roadway, how many other drivers are operating while distracted.
Distracted driving laws are continually changing as state and local governments work to determine the best way to prevent unnecessary deaths on the roadway.