We have all been next to the folks that are distracted while driving. It is flat out scary! We don't want to become one of the devastating statistics we see and hear about every night on the news. Finally, the lawmakers in Austin got around to realizing that prohibiting at least texting and driving would save lives immediately. For this, I am grateful. All my clients are grateful. This is progress.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. Simple enough and we should keep it that way. I'll be honest, most people know what it is. Many choose to ignore that they are distracted or that it matters because everyone does it.
Let's be honest about this. If I am walking down the street and looking at my phone, then I bump into some one. They are going to be mad that I wasn't paying attention. Depending on the size of the people involved in the collision and the speed we are walking, there could be some real injuries. What about if I hit a kid or someone older that can't move as quickly.
What is different about being in cars? The speed and power of the vehicles can wreck lives so easily. This is a fact and not up for dispute. At the end of the day, many drivers believe distracted driving is not a big deal because they make it from point A to point B day in and day out just fine.
What Are The Statistics?
There were 3,477 deaths in 2015 alone because of distracted driving throughout the United States, which is according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This is only the reported ones as well. I can't begin to tell you how many people hide the fact they were on the phone from the officer. We don't find out until I am hired and we order the records.
Here is a better one for you: 1 in every 5 crashes is caused by distracted driving in Texas! 25% of crashes involve distracted driving... that we actually know of. That is incredible. If this is not an epidemic, I don't know what is.
At least one person dies every day in Texas as a result of distracted driving. Why? When is enough, enough?
What Is This New State-Wide Ban About?
The new law will prohibit drivers from texting and driving throughout the state. It defines texting and driving as "read, write, or send text messages". Unless the vehicle is stopped, texting and driving is illegal. Unfortunately, there will still be honking at the folks reading messages at a green light, but this is a step in the right direction.
Violators will be cited and receive a $25 to $99 fine for a first offense.
Also, young drivers are now required to have knowledge about the dangers of distracted driving in order to pass their tests. This is essential as the roadways have changed since many of us got our drivers' licenses.
Where Do We Go From Here?
We continue to create awareness about distracted driving and enforce the laws we have. Bluetooth is still a distraction, even though it is not against the law. We all need to recognize that there is a difference between an open road in West Texas where there is not a car in sight and the congestion of a Dallas street. Bluetooth can be safely used, but when it is not, it is just as dangerous as texting.
We all must continue to make the people that we can impact knowledgeable of the dangers of distracted driving as well as easy alternatives. For example, if you have people that work for you, do not text or email them while you know they are driving. Actually, just don't expect them to respond. If it is something serious, tell them to pull over to discuss.
At The Button Law Firm, we will continue to pursue distracted driving cases to the fullest extent possible. Unfortunately, regardless of a law, people will always violate them. We must continue to hold them accountable so our clients, the actual victims of the distracted driving wrecks will be able to have closure.