In 1987 the Texas Legislature passed a law requiring drivers and front-seat passengers in automobiles to buckle up with seat belts. At the time, some Texans were skeptical the new law would save lives. But to the astonishment of national safety experts, Texas emerged as the national leader in seat belt compliance.
In 2017, as we discussed in an earlier blog post on texting accidents, 1 in 5 crashes involves driver distraction. We all agree texting and driving is never a good idea. But today in Texas, driving and texting will earn you a ticket.
House Bill 62 is a statewide texting and driving ban that creates a misdemeanor offense for a motor vehicle operator who uses a portable wireless communication device to read, write, or send an electronic message while operating the vehicle, unless the vehicle is stopped. First time violators could be fined up to $99 or $200 for a repeat offense.
Supporters of this bill hoped it will make the roads safer. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 1 in 5 crashes involves driver distraction. Detractors say that the new law will be difficult to enforce, but police will be out in full force trying to catch people in the act.
What this new texting and driving ban means for you:
- This new law targets people who are on their mobile devices reading, writing, or sending electronic messages while driving.
- Police will be looking for drivers whose heads are down and who are swerving. Those are two indicators that someone might be texting and driving.
- If you’re stopped at a red light, it’s not a violation to look at your phone, because you’re not “operating a vehicle” in that moment. Just watch out for the light turning green, because if an officer sees that you have begun moving but are still texting and driving, they’ll pull you over.
- Your mobile device can still be used for GPS navigation and music – just keep your head up and your hands on the wheel. If police see your head down and your hands busy, they will assume you are texting and driving, and they’ll pull you over.
- It’s a good idea to seek out hands-free technology, like Bluetooth headsets or dictation apps that type out words spoken aloud.
- Using a cell phone to report and emergency, like a car crash, while driving is allowed under the law. It doesn’t take much maneuvering to dial 911, so it’s unlikely to be confused with texting in the first place.
- If you are caught texting and driving, you will face a fine up to $99 for the first offense, and $200 after that.
Contact Shamieh Law
Distracted driving can be deadly. Texas’ new texting and driving law seeks to cut down on the injuries and deaths caused by distracted driving. Be aware of your surroundings when behind the wheel, and be aware that law enforcement is watching for texters to slip up out there.
If you or someone you love have been injured or killed in a texting and driving accident, or if you feel you have been wrongly charged with texting and driving, call an experienced attorney to thoroughly investigate your case and get you the justice you deserve. Contact us today at 214-888-3333 to schedule a consultation.