The J. Gonzalez law firm knows that there are many things that can distract someone when they are behind the wheel of a vehicle, some avoidable and others not. Perhaps the easiest one to both avoid and fall victim to is distracted driving, particularly the temptation to text while driving.
A New Law
Last year there were nearly 110,000 car accidents involving distracted driving. More than 3,000 suffered severe injuries and over 400 were killed in these accidents. At the time, there were already measures in many cities across the state to prevent texting while driving but there wasn’t a statewide ban against the potentially deadly habit.
On June 6th, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a ban against this form of distracted driving into law, insuring that it will be illegal to do so. A first offense could result in a fine of up to $99, which every additional offense costing a driver up to $200.
This comes as a major victory for safety advocates who had been working for a decade to see a statewide prohibition that could limit the potential damage of unfocused drivers.
Lawmakers were able to pass a ban against texting while driving back in 2011, but that was eventually vetoed when it came to the desk of former Gov. Rick Perry.
A March church bus crash, in which 13 people lost their lives, was one of the main factors that pushed this issue back into the public eye and the ban into effect. The driver of the truck, who had also taken prescription drugs, hit the bus while he was checking his phone to see if he had received a text.
When the law goes into effect on September 1st later this year, it will remove Texas from a dwindling list of states that have yet to pass a ban against texting while driving. Now only three states, Arizona, Missouri, and Montana, remain to follow the rest of the country in this endeavor.
The law only addresses the use of a phone to send and receive messages when someone is driving. Other uses for cell phones, like navigation and music, are not a violation under the new legislation.
Abbott also stated that he hope in sessions later in the year, July and August, he hopes that lawmakers will pass a law that will remove local bans against using mobile devices for things other than texting. The goal behind this is to prevent a confusing body of legislations and regulations for everyone to sort through.
Even with this plan in mind, there is still some skepticism amongst legislative officials. The way the ban is currently structured might lead to enforcement difficulties, leaving police officers in the tough position of trying to decide whether a driver is using their phone for something illegal or not.
A driver could be engaging in other forms of distracted driving, like posting to a social media website or checking their email, and be pulled over by the police. Under the new state law, there would be no penalty but plenty of chances for confusion to arise.
There will always be some issues with such a widespread change but the vision behind it, protecting drivers both from others and themselves, has everyone’s best interests in mind. Checking a text message is not worth someone being seriously injured or losing their life.
Sadly, there are always drivers who put other things before the safety of those they share the road with. If you or someone you know has been the victim of distracted driving, call the J. Gonzalez law firm today at 956-630-6700.
Our experienced team of attorneys will make it their mission to get you and your family the compensation you need and the justice you deserve. Don’t let a careless driver get away with the pain they’ve caused; contact us today and let us go to work for you.