Texas has many traffic laws on the books that are meant to keep drivers safe and free from accidents. However, simply having laws exist does not mean that people will follow them, and this is especially true with laws regarding smartphone use while driving. Even though drivers should be well aware that texting and driving – among other things – is unlawful in Texas, people still regularly read or send messages while behind the wheel.
Distracted driving includes more than just texting. Distracted driving is anything that takes your mind away from the task at hand, driving including such things as eating, sightseeing while driving, putting on makeup, adjusting a radio or other sound system in a vehicle, or concentrating on a conversation, according to the Texas Department of Insurance.
Texas is one of 48 states to have smartphone-related laws in place for drivers. These laws vary from state to state and can even change in different localities within the State of Texas.
Currently, statewide, the following apply in Texas:
Most drivers are allowed to use a handheld device to talk on the phone in Texas. However, some localities banned handheld device activity altogether. For example, Austin is a hands-free city, as the city passed an ordinance banning anyone operating a vehicle or bicycle from using a handheld device.
If a law enforcement officer catches you using a handheld device in Austin or texting and driving elsewhere in the state, you will likely receive a citation and fines. The first offense for distracted driving will cost you a ticket for up to $99, and each subsequent offense will increase up to $200. However, if someone causes an accident because they were violating distracted driving laws, it can be far costlier than simply paying a fine.
Drivers who are negligent and cause injuries should be fully liable for the losses of injured victims. This means that if a texting driver hits you, and you suffer a traumatic brain injury, the texting driver’s insurance company should cover all the costs of your medical care, lost income, and lasting disabilities, among other losses.
If a driver is convicted of texting and driving (or handheld violations in Austin), it serves as instant proof that the driver was negligent. This is because violating a traffic law is automatic negligence in a car accident claim.
Not every case is that simple, however, as many drivers are not caught texting and citing. This means that your attorney will need to gather other evidence to prove negligence and liability for your accident and injuries.
According to the Texas Department of Insurance:
In 2018, the Texas Department of Transportation reported that 18% of all car accidents across the state were caused by distracted driving. The level of risk of an accident increases with the level of distractedness involved in the task. Cell phone use involves a high level of distractedness and a high level of risk of an accident.
We forget how devastating the consequences can be in a traffic accident that involves distracted driving. Distracted driving slows reaction time. That equates to more serious accidents. If a driver fails to see another car, the driver also fails to apply their brakes or applies them too late to avoid a serious impact resulting in more serious injuries.
Injuries may range from soft tissue whiplash to death, depending on speed and point of impact. These injuries may include fractures, spinal cord injuries, and closed head traumatic injuries. The victim may suffer the loss of limbs or amputation in some circumstances.
The faster the speed at impact, the more likelihood of serious injury to those in the impacted vehicle. It does not take much speed at impact to cause a serious outcome. If the distracted driver is traveling at 25 mph and fails to decelerate, that force is enough to cause another person to suffer serious injury or death.
Any of these injuries will cause a victim to suffer pain and suffering. Medical expenses may be overwhelming, and the road to recovery may be long. Depending on the injury, a victim may be unable to work for a protracted period.
Evidence of distracted driving may be corroborated by others in your vehicle. If another person was using a cell phone at the time of the accident, it may be possible for your attorney to obtain the time and date stamp of the electronic communication. Your Austin distracted driving accident lawyer can tell you more about what evidence may be needed and how to obtain that evidence.
Distracted driving is a leading cause of serious traffic accidents in the Austin area. If you are a victim, get the help you need today from an Austin distracted driving lawyer who can help you seek justice and compensation. To find out more, please call today at (512) 872-4584 or contact us online for more information.
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