Here at Dugas Law Firm we have seen time and time again the dangers and devastation connected with reckless driving. We are committed to winning justice for our clients who have been victimized by the careless activities of others on the road, but even more than that, we are dedicated to spreading the word about safe driving and helping prevent accidents before they happen. That is why in this article we want to take a look at one of the most dangerous things someone can do behind the wheel of a car: texting and driving.
A NEW SCOURGE
For decades we’ve understood the dangers of distracted driving. However, those dangers were understood in the context of sleepy driving, rubbernecking, and adjusting the radio while driving. In the last couple of decades there has been an explosion of distracted driving accidents related to drivers talking on their cell phones while driving. As a result, many states have scrambled to pass litigation relating to driving and cell phone use. Even before the issue of driving and “standard” talking on the cell phone use hasa newer, even more dangerous problem relating to cell phones has cropped up: texting and driving.
HOW BAD IS IT?
It seems like we are hearing news stories about accidents caused by texting and driving on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Often these news stories focus on a demographic perceived to be at an elevated risk for this activity: teenagers. However, some people who hear of these incidents may be wondering how much of this is a realistic representation of the overall situation and how much of it is sensationalized by the media. Let’s take a look at some key statistics, facts, and survey information:
– Cell phones are one of the primary causes of distracted driving accidents in the United States. Studies show that they slow reaction time, takes drivers’ eyes of the road and makes it more difficult for drivers to stay in the correct lane.
– Talking on a cell phone quadruples a driver’s risk of crashing. However, texting while driving increases the risk of crashing by up to 23 times!
– People between the ages of 15 to 20 represent about 9% of all licensed drivers in the United States. However, this same demographic is responsible for nearly 20% of all fatal car accidents.
– 63% of drivers under age 30 admit to using a cell phone while driving.
– Nearly one-third of drivers under age 30 admit to texting while driving.
– Studies indicate that that drivers using cell phones fail to process about half the information they encounter while driving.
– In 2009 alone there were over 3,300 car accidents in Texas which were caused in part by the driver’s cell phone use.
IS TEXTING AND DRIVING ILLEGAL IN TEXAS?
Given the very serious information listed above, many people will probably be surprised to discover that texting while driving is not completely illegal in Texas. In fact it is only illegal to all drivers when they are within a designated school zone. Additionally, it is illegal for bus drivers to text while driving and it is also illegal for novice drivers – defined as those who have been driving for under 12 months – to text while driving.
The shocking fact is that it is not illegal for experienced, non-bus drivers to text in regular, non-school zone areas. Only time will tell if legislation eventually catches up with the facts and it becomes illegal for everyone to text and drive in any setting. However, in the meantime we strongly urge you to do your part to protect yourself and others on the road by never texting and driving and always pulling over if you need to use your cell phone. Remember the new slogan from the anti-texting and driving campaign: It can wait.