Could 2017 be the year that all of Texas finally bans texting and driving? Currently, Texas is one of only four states that doesn’t entirely ban texting while driving.
Currently, there are bans in place in specific counties and in school zones. Drivers who are under the age of 18 and those with minor children in the car are also banned from texting while driving.
This will be the fifth time legislation banning the practice, which leads to distracted driving and unnecessary car accidents, goes before lawmakers at the Capitol. House bill 62 and Senate Bill 31 would make using the phone while driving a misdemeanor offense. It would be punishable by a fine from $25 to $99, with increased penalties of up to $200 for repeat offenders.
Texting while driving is a disturbingly common practice. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that approximately 660,000 drivers are using their cellphones at any given point in time. But is it really that dangerous?
The statistics that indicate that it is probably more dangerous than most people realize. Experts say that texting and driving actually presents three distinct dangers:
— It requires drivers to have try to manipulate the wheel and the phone at the same time, without the manual dexterity to do either properly.
— It requires drivers to take their eyes off the road. If traveling at 55 mph, a driver who takes only 5 seconds to read a text will have traveled the length of a football field essentially without looking.
— The human brain can’t really multi-task, but switches linearly among tasks. Drivers who text are less alert and less able to react than drunk or drugged drivers. A drunk driver’s reaction times are slowed down by 13 percent, and a driver smoking cannabis slows down by 21 percent. By comparison, someone texting loses 37 percent of his or her reaction times.
Passing the new legislation would significantly change things for Houston in specific, according to the chief of Houston’s traffic enforcement unit, by giving officers the ability to stop the behavior.
If you’re involved in a car accident with a driver who was texting while driving, consider seeking the assistance of an attorney before settling your claim.
Source: Dallas News, “Texas lawmakers will try to ban texting while driving for the fifth time,” Dagney Pruner, Feb. 02, 2017