Distracted driving has become a nationwide epidemic that claims thousands of lives every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In fact, officials and experts agree that driver distraction is leading recent surges in roadway accidents, injuries, and deaths. While all forms of distraction are risky when they happen behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, cell phone use and text messaging are considered the most dangerous. This is due to the fact that using a phone while driving requires multiple forms of a motorist’s attention:
- Visual – Taking your eyes off the road when driving is dangerous no matter how it happens. Because using a phone, accessing an app, or reading and composing a text message or e-mail requires a driver’s visual attention, cell phone use is incredibly dangerous. Even when a driver removes their eyes from the road for just five seconds while traveling 55 mph, they travel the equivalent of a football field – blindfolded!
- Manual – In addition to commanding a driver’s visual attention, cell phone use also requires drivers to remove one or both hands from the wheel in order to operate the phone or compose a message. With just one or two hands on the wheel, drivers are far less likely to respond to collision-critical situations in an appropriate and timely manner.
- Mental – Visual and manual distractions are both highly dangerous in and of themselves, but when you add the fact that motorists using their phones are preoccupied with conversations or with browsing an app or social media, the risks increase substantially. Inattention is a leading cause of collisions, even when drivers are simply daydreaming.
Statistics and studies make it clear that using a phone behind the wheel is one of the most negligent and risky things a person can do when driving, and that it can have consequences that alter the lives of victims and families forever. Because of this, many states across the country, as well as many cities, have cracked down on cell phone use on public roadways.
Although many states have elected to ban cell phone use and text messaging for all drivers, Texas does not. In fact, Texas is notoriously sluggish in passing distracted driving laws that mirror laws in the majority of states. However, Texas does have some laws regarding cell phone use behind the wheel:
- Bus drivers – School bus drivers are prohibited from using a cell phone and from text messaging while driving if they are transporting passengers under the age of 17.
- Novice drivers – Texas law prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using cell phones and text messaging while driving.
While Texas’ distracted driving laws may not be as robust as those enforced in other states, a lack of legislation does not detract from the fact that using a cell phone or texting while driving is still an inherently negligent act. This means that even if motorists can’t be cited for their risky multi-tasking, they can still be held civilly accountable for their negligence when any victims they harm in distracted driving accidents pursue personal injury claims.
Our legal team at The Daspit Law Firm has extensive experience fighting on behalf of victims harmed in all types of car accidents, including those involving motorists who were distracted by cell phones. By highlighting a distracted driver’s negligence and their failure to uphold their legal duty of safely operating a vehicle, we work to secure full and fair recoveries of our clients’ damages, which may include their pain and suffering, lost work wages, and medical expenses, among others.
If you wish to discuss a recent car accident involving a distracted motorist, do not hesitate to reach out to a Houston car accident lawyer from our firm. We are available around-the-clock to help, and offer home, hospital, and weekend appointments. Contact us to request your free consultation.