Texas remains one of four states in the country that does not have a statewide ban on texting and driving. Three attempts have been made by Texas lawmakers to pass a statewide ban, and all have failed. A fourth attempt by longtime Texas lawmaker Tom Craddick could happen when the Texas Legislature convenes next year.
Proponents of legislation say that we need a statewide ban because mobile phone use while driving kills or injures numerous Texans every year. This argument is backed by statistics gathered by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). According to TxDOT, distracted driving causes 100,000 auto accidents in our state annually. A percentage of these car accidents are caused by mobile phone use.
Opponents of a ban claim that a law would infringe upon the rights of Texans. Some who are opposed to a ban have claimed that eating while driving or applying makeup behind the wheel are equally dangerous habits. There is also the question of whether a state law is needed in the first place, as 90 cities in Texas already have bans of some sort or another in place. However, consider that this is a small fraction of cities and towns in our state.
Of the 90 cities in our state that have ordinances on mobile phone use while driving, each have different rules. In addition, the use of handheld phones is already banned statewide in school zones.
Is Texting and Driving as Dangerous as Some People Claim?
Depending on the speed the person is travelling, they can cover considerable distance without watching the road. The Department of Transportation’s famous tidbit claims that taking your eyes off the road for five seconds at 55 miles per hour equates to the distance of a football field. This is actually wrong, but not in a bad way if you are a proponent of a statewide ban. At 55 miles per hour, five seconds equates to a distance of 403 feet, which is 43 feet greater than a football field.
Even if a person is travelling at 30 miles per hour, the distance covered is capable of causing an accident. A vehicle does not even have to be in motion for a distracted driver to cause deaths or injuries to other people. For example, a pedestrian may be crossing the street, expecting vehicles to remain stopped. If they cross in front of a vehicle, but the driver fails to see them and moves forward, the pedestrian could be hit.
Despite the lack of a statewide law, it is important to remember the possible consequences of distracted driving. This applies to texting or any other activity that creates distractions. Distracted motorists who cause accidents can face legal and civil penalties. Is it really worth risking these consequences just to send an email or write a status update on Facebook?
The Texas car accident attorneys at Mike Love & Associates, LLC, can help individuals and families who have been injured by distracted drivers.