The term “distracted driving” applies to drivers who are not paying proper attention to the road. The incidence of accidents related to distracted driving have steadily increased over the last 10 years. While the number of accidents should be on the decline due to improved safety, the numbers continue to remain at a high level, likely due to distracted driving. According to information from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), there were more than 109,000 crashes, 3,000 people injured, and more than 450 deaths attributed to distracted driving in Texas in 2016.
Distracted Driving is Not Limited to Cell Phone Use
Many people think that distracted driving is limited only to cell phone use, but that is not the case. There are any number of activities that may be classified as distracting. Some of these include applying makeup, eating, drinking, changing the radio station, talking to passengers, reading, and many more.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) distracted driving is “any activity that diverts attention away from driving.” There are three main categories of distractions:
- Visual distractions are any activities that take your eyes off the road
- Manual distractions are those that take your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive distractions include taking your mind off of driving
One of the reasons cell phone use for texting is so dangerous is that it includes all three distractions at the same time. Texting takes your eyes off the road, your mind off driving and your hands off the wheel. Even texting a short message can distract you for five seconds or more. To see exactly how much of a distraction this can be, sit in your car in your driveway, close your eyes and slowly count to 5. A lot can happen in these five seconds.
Texas Distracted Driving Laws
Texas law prohibits cell phone use for electronic messaging while operating a motor vehicle. This is a misdemeanor and is punishable with a fine of up to $99 for the first offense and up to $200 for subsequent offenses. Drivers under age 18 are not allowed to use any wireless communication device, and bus drivers cannot use a phone if a minor is present in the vehicle. No driver can use any handheld device while in a school zone. Unfortunately, many drivers still ignore the law and assume they will not be caught. The police can have a difficult time proving that you were indeed distracted while driving.
If you were hurt in a car accident in Houston, caused by a distracted driver you will need to prove that they were negligent. The police report may provide some information but your attorney will be able to gather documentation and details about the accident.
Your lawyer will take the steps necessary to prove the fault and negligence of the other driver. When you have been hurt in any type of accident, you need to take legal action as soon as possible to preserve evidence in the case. Contact Baumgartner Law Firm for a free case consultation.