Texting while driving—it’s a hot topic, over recent years, and with good reason. Research shows that texting while driving is inherently a form of distracted driving—a phenomenon that causes thousands of accidents and deaths all across America every single year.
It seems innocuous at first; you get a text, so you glance at it to see who it is. Then, suddenly, there’s an intersection looming, and you’re hurt. Because you were looking at your phone, you never saw them coming. Situations like these are exactly why Texas’ new texting while driving ban makes sense. Enforced correctly, texting and driving laws will save lives.
Whether you’re the driver or the person who is harmed by someone texting and driving, this information from a knowledgeable auto accident attorney in Houston, TX is for you.
New Law Basics
The new texting while driving ban makes it completely illegal to use a smartphone device (with the exception of hands-free operation) while driving. It applies to any road, street, or avenue in Texas, both in the city and on country roads, and covers only texting.
That means drivers can technically still make telephone calls, change music, or even surf the web while driving—something that will likely change and tighten up over time.
Exactly what can happen if you’re caught? The stakes are high. Anyone caught texting and driving will be fined with a ticket starting around $99. If you’re caught again, expect that to rise to up to $200. Repeat offenders may also have their licenses suspended or temporarily taken away.
Solutions on the Horizon
The new law is just the beginning; both car companies and tech companies are working hard to create solutions that limit a driver’s ability to text while driving, period. This isn’t easy; obviously, passengers can and should still have access to their phones, creating what is effectively the biggest hurdle to solving the problem.
Enter phone software that detects motion. Developers (including Apple) will use motion-detecting technologies to determine when a vehicle is in motion, requiring users to confirm that they aren’t driving before they’re allowed access to texting and other apps. This started with only a few platforms but is now being integrated into communication apps of all natures—including the famous Pokemon Go app.
More advanced software solutions are currently in development but aren’t expected to be fully available to the public and finalized for another year or two. These solutions include a port that connects the car to both the phone and the internet, using telemetry to determine not only whether you’re texting, but the phone’s position and the number of passengers within the vehicle.
If a driver is alone, for example, the system will disallow texting while in motion. This is likely to become a standard feature simply because it has the potential to limit totally unnecessary accidents every time you drive.
The new texting laws took effect in early September but, if this is the first you’re hearing of it, it’s time to change your ways. Put down the phone, focus on the road, and keep your hands at 10 and 2 whenever possible. It might seem simple, but it’s the easiest way to improve your chances of staying safe on the road.
If you have questions about the new texting and driving ban, or if you have been fined as a result of the ban, contact Johnson Garcia LLP, your trusted auto accident lawyers in Houston, TX.