What You Need to Know about Distracted Driving in Texas

Dangers of distracted driving in Texas from Kay Van Wey, Personal Injury Attorney

Experts now call distracted driving an epidemic because incidents that end in gruesome accidents across the country are becoming more and more common as a result of people looking at their phones while driving.

Distracted driving can come in many forms, not just through the use of a cellular phone to text. Talking to other people in the car, eating, changing radio stations, or even talking on hands free devices all pull attention away from the road.

One of the most vulnerable populations is teenagers, who are already at a heightened risk of being involved in an accident. Parents of teen drivers can help their newly minted drivers be aware of the risks of texting and driving, but also all forms of distracted driving. Doing so may just save their own life, and also the lives of others on the road, like those in passenger vehicles, pedestrians, and even cyclists across Texas.

Sadly, family members every day have to say goodbye to loved ones who have perished as a result of a distracted driving incident. No matter what the cause, it’s hard to grieve and move on when you know that your loved one’s death was completely preventable and senseless. There is no phone call or text that is worth a life lost.

There has been a spike in the number of laws dedicated to the distracted driving issue. Around the country, but also right here at home in Texas, lawmakers have been considering regulations that will hopefully deter behavior and cut down on the number of terrible auto accidents that are claiming these lives.

Even though 1 in 5 crashes in the state of Texas can be linked directly to distracted driving, Texas is one of only a handful of states that does not have a ban on texting at the wheel. Other states, like Oklahoma, Montana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Arizona are also catching flak for failing to respond to this growing problem on their roads.

The argument, according to lawmakers, is whether or not it’s a violation of personal freedoms for legislators to mandate that drivers put their phones down or face serious consequences. A measure to ban texting and driving already came through Texas several years ago, but it was vetoed by Governor Rick Perry who believed that the measure was “government micromanagement.”

It’s not as though nothing has been done, however. Texting and driving is banned in school zones and cities are allowed to pass bans as they wish, but no statewide measures have been successful yet at cutting down on the practice. Several cities, like Austin and San Antonio, have already shown some initiative in banning the practice, allowing police to write tickets for those who are caught texting behind the wheel.

It is important that we all do our part by putting our phones down while driving, and urging others who are driving to do the same. It only takes a split second for tragedy to strike. Once it does, there is no going back. Please think twice about your safety and the safety of those around you on Texas roadways and let’s bring this epidemic to a halt.

To learn more about what you can do to make a difference, download my free EBook, Distracted to Death, today.

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Pedestrian on Bike Struck by Distracted Driver

Texas distracted driving attorney Kay Van Wey is passionate about ending the senseless injuries and deaths that are caused by cell phone use while driving. She is asking everyone to visit her website, JustPutitDown.com, and join her in this battle by taking a quick pledge.  Commit to putting your phone away while driving…Every pledge counts, and every life is worth saving from this senselessness.

With all the awareness efforts, shocking statistics and lives lost from distracted drivers using cell phones, it would seem people would begin putting their phones down. Unfortunately, they’re still taking their chances with their own lives and the lives of others.

Corky Rawdon from Farmer’s Branch, Texas is one of the most recent victims of distracted driving.

Corky Rawdon is feeling pretty lucky these days…

He was out on a nice day enjoying a bike ride near his home when, out of nowhere, a white SUV rear-ended him. The driver, who said he was looking at his phone for directions, was given a ticket and sent on his way.

Corky was riding on the right hand side of Valley View Lane, near Oren Good Park when he was rear-ended. He merely remembers being on the ground and trying to move his arms and legs, hoping he wasn’t paralyzed. He was very lucky. His demolished $5,000 racing bike lay nearby on the ground.

Michael Allen Pete, the driver, got out of his 2003 GMC Envoy and repeatedly apologized to Rawdon, admitting that he was, “…looking down and didn’t look up in time. According to James MacPhail, the Farmer’s Branch investigating police officer, Pete was late to a soccer game he had planned on refereeing.

MacPhail wrote in the accident report that Pete was looking down at his cell phone GPS while travelling 35 mph, and looked back up at the road only to notice the driver too late. He struck Rawdon, causing injury.

“Driver of Unit 1 reports that he was traveling at 35 mph and became distracted by his cell phone GPS,” MacPhail wrote in the accident report. “Driver glanced down to view the phone and as he looked back at the road, he saw the cyclist. Unit 1 struck the cyclist causing injury.”

Pete was cited on the scene for failure to produce proof of insurance and sent on his way. Rawdon stated in a recent interview that he had not seen or heard from the driver.

Rawdon was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital by ambulance and suffered a cracked vertebra in his lower back.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, cell phone use was a contributing factor in over 3,000 vehicle crashes in 2012. An estimated 35 “fatality crashes” in that same year were related to cell phone use. Over 1,300 crashes produced injuries. According to experts, the actual numbers are much higher.

In Texas, this is what must happen in order for an officer to list a cell phone as a contributing factor:

  1. The officer must see the driver using the phone, or
  2. The driver must admit to using a cell phone.

Pete did admit using his cell phone when the accident occurred, allowing officers to include it in their report. Knowing how difficult it must be for either of these actions to occur, it’s not hard to imagine how many cases we truly never hear about.

Where Does Texas Stand?

  • 41 states have banned texting while driving, but Texas has not as of yet.
  • In Texas, it is against the law to use a cell phone in school zones or if you are under 18 years of age.
  • 24 cities have passed ordinances banning various forms of cell phone use while driving, mostly texting.
  • El Paso is the only city who has banned cell phone use altogether while driving.
  • Arlington and Grand Prairie have passed ordinances making texting while driving a ticketable offense, but are allowing dash-mounted GPS units.
  • Dallas has not taken any action yet.

City officials on the scene believe the problem is getting worse. (Source: dallasnews.com)

Do Your Part, Take the Pledge

Where do you stand on cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle? Are you willing to put your phone down? Make a commitment by joining Texas distracted driving attorney Kay Van Wey of Van Wey Law in taking the “Just Put it Down” pledge. She is doing her part to decrease the problem, and every pledge makes a difference.

If you become injured or a loved one suffers fatal injuries due to a car accident involving a distracted driver, call Van Wey Law for a free consultation. If you are seriously injured, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical bills, pain, and suffering.

Cyclist Suffers Broken BackFor more information on protecting yourself or a loved one who has been involved in a car accident, grab Kay’s free ebook resource, Ultimate Guide for Texas Car Accident Victims.  When you’ve been seriously injured due to another’s negligence, it’s important to have an experienced accident attorney on your side.

Important Tips for How to Protect Yourself after a Texas Car Accident

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