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Distracted Driving Laws in Texas

Texas drivers have a responsibility to follow all traffic laws and operate their vehicles safely. To uphold this standard of care, motorists must keep their eyes, mind, and hands-on the act of driving at all times. Unfortunately, not all drivers follow these rules, engaging in dangerous and risky behaviors while they are supposed to focus on the road.

Distracted driving, or the act of driving without paying full attention, can result in disastrous consequences. Since distracted driving is a violation of Texas traffic laws, drivers who engage in this risky practice may be liable for their victims’ damages.

The Risks of Distracted Driving

It is impossible for a person to drive safely without paying full attention to the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving leads to thousands of deaths and injuries each year. In 2019 alone, 3,142 people died in accidents involving distractions in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 400,000 people suffer injuries due to distracted drivers each year. 1 out of every 5 people who died in distracted driving accidents were not inside a vehicle—these victims were pedestrians, cyclists, and other passersby who sustained an accident due to a distracted driver’s carelessness.

Data from the NHTSA also shows that reading a text while driving takes your eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds. If you are driving at 55 miles per hour, you will drive the equivalent of an entire football field by the time you finish reading the message.

Common Examples of Driving Distractions

Many people believe that distracted driving solely involves using a cellphone while operating a vehicle. However, any action that takes your mind, eyes, or hands off the act of driving is a form of distracted driving. There are three forms of distracted driving.

  • Visual distractions, or any action that leads to you taking your eyes off the road. Using a cellphone, looking for items in the vehicle, browsing a playlist, looking at a GPS system, or turning to look at another person in the car are examples of visual distractions.
  • Manual distractions, or any action that involves taking your hands off the steering wheel. Fiddling with a radio or GPS system, eating or drinking, applying makeup, and smoking are examples of manual distractions.
  • Cognitive distractions, or anything that takes your mind away from driving. Listening to the radio, speaking to passengers, daydreaming, becoming lost in thought, or being very stressed or tired are examples of cognitive distractions.

Texting and Driving Laws in Texas

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, texting and driving is illegal everywhere in Texas. Drivers are not allowed to send or receive electronic messages while operating their vehicles. Drivers under the age of 18 are completely prohibited from using a cellphone inside of their vehicles.

Additionally, using a cellphone while inside of a vehicle is illegal if the driver is in a school zone. In some cities, such as Austin, drivers are not allowed to use a cellphone while driving at all. It is important to become familiar with any city-specific cellphone ordinances before getting on the road—doing so can help drivers avoid accidents and fines.

If a driver violates the state’s texting and driving law, he or she can receive one of the following penalties.

  • First offense: between $25 to $99 in fines
  • Second and subsequent offenses: between $100 to $200 in fines

An accident with a distracted driver can result in painful, debilitating consequences. If you are the victim of a distracted driving accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Contact an Edinburg car accident attorney to discuss your legal options.