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How dangerous is distracted driving?

While most states have laws that ban texting while driving, Texas does not. The city of Bellaire, however, does have a distracted driving ordinance in effect.

Distracted driving is among the many dangers facing motorists in Texas. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 percent of all injury accidents in the United States involve some form of driver distraction . The number of people injured in distracted driving collisions increased by 10 percent in 2013 since 2011. In addition to the 424,000 people hurt, more than 3,100 were killed in such accidents in 2013.

Three types of distractions

The CDC outlines three types of distractions that drivers can experience. A manual distraction is something that requires a driver’s hands to be taken off the steering wheel. A visual distraction gets the attention of the driver’s eyes in place of the road. A cognitive distraction captures the mental attention of the driver. Texting is an example of a distraction that actually includes all three of these, making it highly dangerous.

Recent accident illustrates the risk

The Houston Chronicle reports that three people died and another was seriously injured due to distracted driving. The 18-year-old driver was apparently using the mapping feature on her phone which allowed her car to go directly into the path of a tractor trailer. Her three passengers all died, including a high school senior from Bellaire and her 19-year-old sister.

How Texas approaches distracted driving

Texas, unlike many other states, does not ban the use of cell phones while driving in all cases. The Texas Department of Transportation explains, however, that there are some situations in which the use of electronic devices is illegal for drivers.

Drivers with permits only or those with licenses who are 16 or 17 are banned from the use of phones at any time. No driver is allowed to use a handheld device while driving through a school zone. It is also illegal for a school bus driver to use a cell phone when children are present.

The lack of a more comprehensive state law on distracted driving has not prevented some cities from enacting their own ordinances on the topic. Bellaire is among the municipalities that have done just that. Others include San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi and Galveston. All in all, approximately 40 municipalities throughout the state have made handheld use of a phone while driving illegal since 2009.

Help for accident victims

People who have been injured or who have lost loved ones in a distracted driving accident deserve help. Talking to an attorney is encouraged as a way of getting thorough and proper information during what can be a very emotional time.

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