Texting and driving is a significant concern on Texas roads. It leads to accidents, injuries, and even deaths. To keep drivers and passengers safe, Texas has passed strict laws. These laws target texting and other distractions while driving. Distracted driving is not just about texting. It's any activity that diverts attention from driving. But texting is one of the most common distractions.
At The Major Law Firm, we understand how Texas law and distracted driving laws impact cell phone usage. This covers everyone from standard drivers to commercial drivers and school bus drivers. While a portable wireless communication device can be helpful, distracted drivers threaten themselves and everyone else on the road.
Learn more about texting regulations from the Texas Department of Transportation, and give us a call if you have been in an accident caused by a distracted driver.
Overview of Texas Texting and Driving Laws
A. The Texas Cell Phone Law
In Texas, it's illegal for drivers to read, write, or send electronic messages while driving. This includes texting, emailing, and other forms of messaging. The law applies when the motor vehicle is in motion, not when stopped at a light. Breaking this law can result in fines and other penalties.
B. Age-Specific Restrictions
Drivers under 18 in Texas cannot use cell phones while driving. This includes making calls, texting, or any other use. New drivers, those with learner's permits, also have strict rules. They can't use handheld devices for the first six months of driving. Put down your mobile device when you get behind the wheel.
C. Primary vs. Secondary Enforcement
The texting and driving law in Texas is a primary enforcement law. This means police can pull you over just for texting while driving. They don't need another reason. Secondary laws only allow tickets for texting if you're pulled over for another reason.
Overview of the Key Provisions of the Law
Drivers in Texas need to be aware of the main rules:
- Texting and driving is illegal for all drivers, regardless of age.
- Drivers under 18 can't use phones at all while driving.
- School bus operators can't use phones when children are present.
It is crucial for everyone to understand precisely how these laws are written and how they are enforced.
Finally, Texas prohibits phone use in school zones. This applies to all drivers, not just young ones. These zones are clearly marked, and drivers must obey. Violating these provisions can result in hefty fines and penalties. It is crucial for everyone to protect the children of the community by driving safely in a school zone.
Prohibition on Texting While Driving
Texting while driving is a big no in Texas. The law sees it as reading, writing, or sending an electronic message. If you're caught, you could face severe penalties. This is because texting distracts drivers from the road and increases the chances of someone being involved in a car accident.
Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents and is as dangerous as driving drunk. So, Texas takes this matter very seriously. They want to ensure roads are safe for everyone.
Exceptions and Exemptions
Now, there are some exceptions. The law doesn't apply if you're reporting illegal activity. It's also okay if you're reading a message you believe is an emergency. Using a navigation system or music app is also acceptable.
However, always be cautious. Just because it's legal doesn't mean it's safe. Always prioritize driving safely over using your phone. It's better to pull over if you need to use your phone urgently. If you are involved in a serious car accident, saying the activity is legal is not a strong defense.
The Hands-Free Law
Texas has a hands-free law in specific areas. For instance, in school zones, all drivers must be hands-free. Some cities in Texas also have local hands-free laws. This means drivers can't hold their phones at all.
Using speakerphone, Bluetooth, or other hands-free tools is the way to go. Even then, avoid lengthy or intense conversations. Keep your primary focus on driving. Staying alert can save lives.
In areas with a hands-free law, holding your phone is not allowed. Even if you're just dialing a number, it's a violation. Devices must be mounted or placed somewhere accessible. Using voice commands is encouraged.
Using earphones or headphones can also increase your chances of being involved in an accident. This ensures drivers can still hear emergency vehicles or honking. Always remember, safety first!
Allowed and Prohibited Activities While Driving
Making a call is allowed but should be brief. Using navigation or music apps is fine. But changing songs or typing addresses while driving is not safe. Activities like watching videos, playing games, or browsing social media are not allowed.
Remember, the key is to avoid distractions. Even legal activities can be dangerous if they take your attention. Always prioritize safe driving over phone use.
How the Law Is Enforced
1. Role of Law Enforcement Agencies
Texas police are on the lookout for texting drivers. They are trained to spot drivers using their phones. If they see you texting, they can pull you over. Their main goal is to ensure the safety of all road users.
2. Fines and Penalties for Violations
First-time violators can be fined up to $99. If you're caught again, the fine can go up to $200. But that's not all. Serious accidents caused by texting can lead to criminal charges.
3. Impact on Driving Records and Insurance Rates
Getting ticketed for texting can affect your driving record. This can lead to higher insurance rates. Insurance companies see texting drivers as high risk. As a result, they charge more for coverage.
Penalties and Consequences
Breaking the texting law can be costly. The initial fines may seem minor. But repeat violations add up. Plus, there are other consequences to consider.
For instance, court costs can increase the amount you pay. And, if you cause an accident while texting, you could face jail time. You may also be sued for damages. It's not just about money; it's about responsibility.
Fines and Ticketing
The fines have been listed above, but keep in mind that the penalties could be more severe for repeat offenders or if you cause an accident. The fine is even higher if you're caught in a school zone. Remember, these are just the base amounts; court costs can make it more.
Suspension of Driver's License
Serious or repeated offenses can lead to license suspension. Your license may be at risk if you cause injury or death while texting. It's a heavy price for a text. Always think before you pick up that phone.
Impact on Insurance Rates
Insurance companies look at your driving record. A ticket for texting can increase your rates. Some insurers may even deny coverage. Texting and driving is seen as risky behavior, and insurers charge accordingly.
Potential Legal Consequences
If your texting leads to an accident, you can face legal troubles. Victims can sue for medical bills, pain, and suffering. In severe cases, you could face criminal charges. This is especially true if someone is seriously hurt or killed.
Impoundment of Devices
In some cases, law enforcement may seize your device. This is more common in serious accidents. It's done to gather evidence. They will check if phone use contributed to the crash.
Proving Distracted Driving in Texas
A. Eyewitness Testimony
Witnesses play a vital role in these cases. They can testify if they saw a driver using their phone. This is strong evidence in court. It can establish fault in an accident.
B. Police Reports
Officers at the scene will create a report. They'll note any evidence of distracted driving. This can include a driver's admission or a phone in the driver's hand.
C. Phone Records
Phone records can show activity at the time of a crash. This can prove a driver was texting or calling. It's a clear link between phone use and an accident.
D. Video or Photo Evidence
Dash cams, security cameras, or other drivers can capture evidence. Videos or photos can clearly show a driver using their phone. This can be crucial in proving fault.
E. Expert Testimony
Experts can explain how phone use affects driving. They can testify on reaction times and attention. Their insights can help a jury understand the risks of texting while driving.
Impact and Effectiveness of the Laws
Texas's strict laws have had an impact. Studies show a decrease in texting-related accidents. It proves that strict enforcement can change behavior. The aim is to make roads safer for everyone.
However, despite the laws, some drivers still text. It's a challenge to eliminate the problem completely. Continuous awareness and education are essential. Everyone has a role in ensuring safety on the roads.
Financial Liability for Distracted Driving Accidents
If you cause an accident while texting, you're liable. This means paying for damages and medical bills. It can run into thousands of dollars. Your insurance may cover some costs, but not all.
Additionally, the victim can sue for pain and suffering. This can increase the amount you owe. It's a financial burden that can last years. Always think of the costs before you text and drive.
Our Texas Personal Injury Attorney Will Assist You in Your Case
If you're a victim of a texting driver, we can help. Our experienced Texas attorneys understand the law. We'll fight for your rights and ensure you get fair compensation. Accidents can change lives; we'll make sure you're taken care of.
Don't face the legal battle alone. We're here to guide you every step of the way. From gathering evidence to negotiating settlements, we've got your back. Trust us to handle your case with care and expertise.
Contact The Major Law Firm for a Free Case Evaluation With Our Texas Personal Injury Attorney
Texting and driving accidents can be devastating. But you don't have to navigate the aftermath alone. Contact The Major Law Firm today. We offer a free case evaluation with our expert Texas personal injury attorney.
Our team is dedicated to ensuring justice. We understand the pain and stress of accidents. Let us handle the legal side so you can focus on healing. Remember, your rights matter; let us protect them. Contact us today to schedule a case consultation.