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.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Texting and Driving, A Deadly Combination

Texting and Driving KillsThe Real Truth

Texting and driving has become a significant problem for drivers.  There are many reasons car accidents occur due to negligence in Texas, as well as other states.  Primary concerns in the recent past to watch out for on the roads have been drunk drivers, low seat belt use, speeding, fatigued drivers, and inexperienced or distracted teen drivers.  It may surprise you to know that today, the distraction of cell phone use accounts for nearly 25% of all crashes (NHTSA).  Drivers engaged in cell phone use, which is not limited to texting, but includes internet use, as well as use of GPS navigation systems, are four times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident.

What are the Laws in Texas?

Unfortunately, Texas does not ban texting while driving for all of its citizens, but these bans are in place today:

  • Bans on all cell phone usage (handheld and Hands-free) for bus drivers (Primary law)
  • Bans on all cell phone usage (handheld and Hands-free) for novice drivers (Primary law)
  • Bans on texting for novice drivers (Primary law)
  • Bans texting for bus drivers (Primary law)Bans for all citizens of Texas on hand-held phones and texting in school zones… New drivers, bus drivers, and all drivers in school zones are prohibited by law to use cell phones for any reason.

Note: In Texas bus driver laws pertain to bus drivers with passengers age 17 and under. Novice drivers are defined as all drivers at the intermediate stage, first 12 months. (Distraction.gov) 

I am safe talking hands free, Right?

Wrong!  Cell phones cause a visual distraction, obviously, but even more significant is the mental, or cognitive, distraction they create.  Cell phones can cause distracted drivers to take their minds off of what they should be solely focused on…the primary task of driving!  Drivers talking on cell phones miss half of the information in their surroundings.  This could include objects, other cars, exits, and red lights.  This places your life and your property in danger, should you be around a negligent driver on a cell phone.

Consequences

Many lawsuits in recent years have held employers liable for employees who have crashed while using cell phones.  These are only a small handful of lawsuits brought against employers from cell phone use resulting in negligent driving:

  • $21.6 million- Ohio Technology Company
  •  $18 million- Alabama Trucking Company
  •  $16.1 million- Arkansas Lumber Distributor
  •  $5.2 million- Georgia Paper Company
  •  $5 million- Georgia Construction Company

(source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the New England Journal of Medicine)

Because of these events, most businesses in Texas have banned employees from using cell phones while driving altogether.  The National Safety Council® recommends for businesses to record a voice mail telling callers they are driving at the moment, and that it is not safe to make or receive calls while driving.

What should I do if I’m hit by a distracted driver?

Should you be unfortunate enough to become injured in an automobile accident by distracted cell phone user, you should know your rights, and seek the advice of an attorney immediately.  If you believe you have been struck by a distracted cell phone user, there are records that can prove this.

If you were a passenger who was injured riding with a distracted driver and become injured in an accident, you have rights.  You did not have control over the operations of the vehicle you were in, so you are not at fault!

In Texas, you have the right to make a claim for compensation to cover your automobile damage and/or personal injury medical bills, work hours lost, and other expenses.  You also have the right to make a claim against the person who was using the phone who caused the accident.

At Van Wey Law, we fight for your rights, and we fight to end distracted driving.

Here at Van Wey Law, we have teenagers, and we are all too familiar with the heavy burden of worry when your child walks out the door with keys in one hand, and cell phone in the other.  We believe in fighting for your rights as the injured party.  We also believe in making the world a better place by eliminating distracted driving in Texas.  It is 100% preventable.

Some personal injury lawyers have earned a bad reputation by approaching people’s misfortunes with the attitude of, “your pain is my gain.” For one attorney, this isn’t the case.

Kay Van Wey has launched a public service campaign in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area to try and reduce the number of distracted driving fatalities.

I have personally witnessed so much unnecessary suffering of people who have been seriously injured or killed as When distracted driving accidents occur, they often result in serious injury or fatalities. Tragically, distracted driving accidents are 100% preventable. That is why I launched the Just Put It Down Campaign.

Kay Van Wey, Van Wey Law 

Join Van Wey Law and take the pledge to “Just Put It Down”.  Make a pact with your family as well.  A life is not worth a phone conversation or a text.  If you have been in the victim of a car accident that has been caused by a reckless driver, call Van Wey Law at 1(800) 489-5082 for a free legal consultation, and learn how you can best handle your compensation claim.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail