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Will 2017 Be the Year Texas Gets a Distracted Driving Law?

Posted On January 16, 2017 In Local Car Accidents

Distracted driving has become a primary cause of accidentsSeveral months ago, we published a blog discussing how Texas is one of four states in the US without a universal ban on distracted driving. That may soon change. The 85th Legislature recently convened in Austin, and lawmakers are filing bills by the hundreds. State Representative Tom Craddick is making a fourth attempt to pass a distracted driving law. If House Bill 62 is passed by Legislature and signed by Governor Greg Abbott, drivers reading, texting or sending messages could receive fines.

There are existing laws that place restrictions on mobile phone use while driving, but they are limited. Cities and small towns have passed their own ordinances banning mobile phone use. Texas law bans motorists under 18 from using phones while driving except during emergencies. Bus drivers are also banned from using mobile phones while driving. Finally, you cannot use mobile phones in school zones in our state.

Despite existing rules, Texas lacks a centralized law banning distracted driving for the majority of motorists.

Do We Need a Distracted Driving Law?

Statistics and news headlines make a powerful argument for preventing accidents caused by distracted driving – through state laws or other means. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,179 people died in distracted driving accidents in 2014. Another 431,000 suffered injuries that same year. Texas Department of Transportation statistics show 100,000 distracted driving accidents happen in our state every year, many of which are caused by mobile phone use.

The stories of families who have lost loved ones to these accidents also make a powerful argument for preventing distracted driving.

For example, the story behind Craddick’s legislation is a powerful example of how distracted driving can destroy lives. House Bill 62 is also known as the Alex Brown Memorial Act. In 2009, 17-year-old Alex Brown crashed her truck on the way to school. She was texting four friends when she crashed on a rural road at 70 miles per hour. Alex’s parents launched the Remember Alex Brown Foundation, and Craddick has, on multiple occasions, named his anti-distracted driving legislation after the girl. There are thousands of stories like this happening across the country every year.

In many cases, distracted drivers or the people they hit suffer catastrophic injuries. Brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, disfigurement, burns and broken bones are commonplace.

Opponents of a distracted driving law claim it would infringe on the personal freedom of Texas citizens. Other opposing arguments suggest the law’s fines would do little to stop distracted driving. In addition, opponents also claim other forms of distracted driving, such as applying makeup or using a GPS, are equally dangerous.

Where do you stand on this issue? Let us know by connecting with the Texas car accident attorneys at Mike Love & Associates, LLC on Facebook.

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