Crash studies show a staggering 400,000 people are hurt in the U.S. every year because of distracted driving. The number of people killed per year is nearly 3,000. In Texas, 1 in 5 crashes involve a distracted driver.
To address the problem, in 2017 the Texas Legislature banned the use of a “wireless communication device to read, write, or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped.”
Under Texas law, young drivers, like driver’s with learner’s permits, are not allowed to use cell phones for the first six months of driving, and drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using cell phones. Bus drivers are prohibited from using cell phones while driving if children are present. In school zones, all drivers are prohibited from texting and using handheld devices while driving.
In addition, Texas cities are free to enact hands free ordinances, however, the defenses allowed relating to texting and driving under state law preempt city ordinances. Thus, it is an affirmative defense to prosecution for a cell phone offense under a city ordinance if the operator was using a cell phone in conjunction with a hands-free device; for GPS navigation; to report illegal activity or ask for help in an emergency; to read an electronic message reasonably believed to be an emergency; for use in the course of an operator’s occupation (e.g., dispatcher, Uber or Lyft); or for playing music.
Although a driver may have a defense to criminal prosecution for the use of a cell phone while driving, if a crash occurs, that driver may still be held negligent and liable for damages to an injured party, if a reasonably prudent driver operating a motor vehicle under the same or similar circumstances would not have used a cell phone.
Texas has very strict laws for distracted driving. In Texas, drivers are not allowed to send or receive electronic messages while behind the wheel, and using a handheld electronic device in a school zone is illegal. New drivers with a learner’s permit and teen drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to use cell phones while operating a vehicle. It’s also illegal to use a cell phone at a red light in Texas since Texas law considers a driver to be still operating a vehicle even if the vehicle is stopped at a red light.
In Texas, the penalties for distracted driving can result in misdemeanor charges and a criminal record. Violating Texas laws on distracted driving can also result in a fine of $25 to $99 for first-time offenders and fines up to $200 for repeat offenders. However, if someone is severely injured because of distracted driving, the at-fault driver may face harsher penalties and fines.
Any behavior or activity that pulls the driver’s attention away from the road can be considered a driving distraction. When your lawyer files a car accident claim with an insurance company, the demand letter will indicate which of the following behaviors contributed to the driving accident.
A cognitive distraction is something that takes the driver’s attention off the road. A cognitive distraction can include a wandering mind or distracted thoughts because of stress. While this type of distraction may be harder to prove, the fact is that a driver getting lost in their thoughts can be extremely dangerous.
Visual distractions occur when the driver takes their eyes off the road. Much of the time, a visual distraction can be from texting while driving or looking at other cars instead of the road. A visual distraction can result in fatal car accidents.
A manual distraction happens when the driver takes their hands off the wheel while operating a vehicle. Many distracted driving accidents occur because a driver has taken one or both hands off the wheel while the car is in motion, which can often result in serious accidents. Sometimes, this may happen because the driver is adjusting the radio or searching for something in the car.
When you file a personal injury claim, your College Station car accident lawyer will need to find proof to hold the distracted driver responsible for causing your accident, injuries, and damages. Fortunately, distracted driving accident lawyers have the necessary experience to identify evidence that can be used to hold the other driver accountable. Some keys to proving liability in a distracted driving case include:
Cell phone use, such as texting, talking on the phone, or using a mobile app are some of the most common causes of distracted driving car accidents. However, many other behaviors can cause accidents, such as operating a GPS device, personal grooming, changing radio stations, applying makeup, eating, drinking, or even talking to passengers in the car.
The primary task of a driver behind the wheel is to pay attention to other drivers on the road. Using smartphones or engaging in other distractions can cause serious, long-term, and fatal injuries to the driver, other drivers, and passengers. Distracted driving statistics prove just how dangerous distracted driving can be. Texting while driving a motor vehicle is one of the leading causes of fatal crashes in the nation.
The National Highway Safety Administration indicates nearly 3,000 people are killed by distracted driving each year, while about 400,000 people are injured due to distracted driving. CDC statistics suggest that about 25% of distracted driving accidents result in fatalities for people between the ages of 20 and 29. Drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 cause more accidents involving fatalities since an estimated 39% of high schoolers admit to texting while driving.
The main danger of distracted drivers is the fact that the driver will have a reduced reaction time. When operating a motor vehicle, it’s important to have a quick reaction time to avoid accidents with other cars and accidents with pedestrians, including bicyclists.
According to studies, in the time it takes to look away from the road to read a text message, a car can travel the length of a football field if the car is driving at highway-typical speeds. Furthermore, the faster a car is traveling, the more damage it can do to other cars and people.
If you have to file a personal injury case with the other driver’s insurance company or your own insurance company, you can seek fair compensation for your economic damages. Most victims will seek compensation for medical bills and lost wages, particularly if their auto insurance does not cover the full cost of these financial burdens. Your legal team may encourage you to ask for pain and suffering compensation, as well.
If you’ve been in an accident involving a distracted driver, it’s a good idea to hire a car accident attorney in College Station as soon as possible. An accident caused by cell phones or other distractions can result in extensive injuries and damages. Contact Brian C. Gutierrez at 979-271-5338 for a free consultation today.
If you have been injured as a result of a distracted driving accident, then it’s a good idea to hire a distracted driving accident lawyer as soon as possible. Distracted driving accidents can result in major injuries and significant property damage, and it can be much easier to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company when you have the help of a lawyer.
In particular, if your injuries after your distracted driving accident have made it impossible for you to work, you should seek compensation for your lost wages. If the cost of your physical injuries and vehicle repair have exceeded your own insurance policy limits, compensation from the other driver can help you recover more quickly. Lastly, if you have suffered emotional distress and mental anguish because of the accident, your personal injury attorney can hold the at-fault driver responsible for these damages as well.
If you need a distracted driving accident lawyer in Bryan or College Station, contact Brian C. Gutierrez, PLLC for experienced representation.
We can help you build a strong case. We will obtain the crash report, conduct our own investigation, gather evidence, interview witnesses, hire experts, and if necessary, file a lawsuit and subpoena the at-fault driver’s cell phone records to prove he or she was on their phone at the time of the crash.
Get a free case evaluation
Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Transportation Code §§ 545.424, 545.425, 545.4251, 545.4552, and City of College Station Ordinances.