April Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

two cars crashed into each other

Distracted driving, more common among younger drivers, is illegal in Texas. Texas prohibits almost everything relating to texting, emailing, or using a phone while driving. Among other things:

  • Drivers cannot send or receive email or texts

  • Drivers with learner’s permits cannot use cell phones for their first six months of driving

  • Drivers cannot use any handheld device in a vehicle in a school zone

  • Drivers under 18 years of age cannot use handheld devices

  • School bus drivers cannot use handheld devices while children are present

There are some statutory exceptions for bona fide emergencies, but in general best to leave your phone untouched while driving in Texas.

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

In 2019, distracted driving killed 3,142 Americans. To increase awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and to make American roads and drivers safer, the National Safety Council created Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in October 2020. In observance of the Month, the NSC encourages drivers to take the NSC Just Drive Pledge.

For Those Who Do Drive Distracted

Texas uses what is called primary enforcement for offenses involving distracted driving. That means an officer does not need to have any other reason to stop a vehicle other than a good faith belief that the driver was violating the distracted driving laws. Penalties for violations are $25 to $99 for a first offense and up to $100 to $200 for subsequent offenses. Court costs are fees are also often added to the fines. A citation for distracted driving does not, however, add points against a Texas driver’s license. Different Texas municipalities may also have much higher fines than the state does.

Effects Going Forward

Depending on how the violation occurred, it can impact your insurance rates in the future. Since the citation does not carry points, it is unlikely to increase your rates automatically. If you received the ticket as part of an accident or other violation, rates increases are likely, and any safe driver discounts will disappear.

What Texas Wants You to Do

If you receive a phone call or text while driving in Texas, the Department of Transportation says you should pull off the road, stop, and then take the phone call or answer the text. DoT also recommends that you become familiar with the local laws where you live and drive because of the potentially higher penalties for violations.

Can You Recover Compensation if You Have Been Hurt by a Distracted Driver?

Fortunately, in most cases, you can recover compensation if you have been injured by a distracted driver. In fact, in most cases, you would not even have to show that the other driver was distracted, as simply establishing that he or she caused the accident will be sufficient to recover compensation.

Call Us Today to Speak with a Personal Injury Lawyer in Killeen

If you were involved in an auto accident in which distracted driving was an issue, you should contact counsel to ensure that you receive the best handling of your claim. Brett Pritchard, a Killeen attorney who concentrates his practice in personal injury law, can assist you with your case. Call 254-501-4040 today to schedule a consultation with an attorney.

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