In today’s world, the constant stream of information and distraction available to us through our cell phones and electronic devices can make it hard to unplug. The overall effect this has on people can be debated, but the fact remains that there is one time that not being able to put down our phones is always dangerous – when we are on the road.
Driving a vehicle, of any size, requires our complete and undivided attention, whether here in the McAllen area or anywhere across Texas.
Here at J. Gonzalez Law Firm, we understand and see firsthand the damage that distracted drivers can cause on the road. That is why it is our goal to ensure that everyone is aware of the facts about cell phone use and driving.
As lawyers in the Rio Grande Valley, we also want to see that those affected by distracted driving are taken care of, and that those who harm others answer for their negligence.
Help is on the Way
This year House Bill 62 and Senate Bill 31, identical bills banning texting while driving, are again being moved through the state legislature. These bills propose that drivers caught texting can be charged with a misdemeanor. First time fines would range from $25 to $99, with repeat offenses carrying potential fines up to $200.
At the forefront of this effort are Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, and Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland. This latest push represents the fifth and fourth time, respectively, that each of them has filed legislation to enact this ban.
There have been efforts here in Texas, as far back as 2011, to pass legislation that would place a complete ban on texting while driving. According to Dallas News, that year the proposed bill was able to pass both house of the Texas congress, but ultimately met its end on the desk of former Gov. Rick Perry.
Perry addressed the legislation by stating that the bill was “a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults”.
Fortunately, the sentiments of the former governor represent a growing minority. Even though Texas is one of only four states without a total ban, there are already a number of partial bans in effect.
Texting while driving in a school zone is already completely prohibited statewide. In addition, if a driver is under 18 or a bus driver is carrying minors, neither are allowed to use a cell phone under any circumstance.
Ninety-five counties have a ban of some type in place and the website Big Country states that 90 cities across the state have outlawed it entirely.
The Specifics of Being Ahead of the Curve
The best news for local drivers is that McAllen is one of those 90 cities that has already taken it upon itself to ban this dangerous driving habit. An ordinance banning texting while driving and addressing other related activities was passed back in 2011.
According to a report in The Monitor, the ordinance prohibits a driver from sending or reading a text message on their phone. Surfing the internet is also not allowed, but you can still make a phone call while driving with no penalty.
The ordinance was originally proposed by city commissioner Jim Darling, in response to the 8,000 crashes that annually occur in the city of McAllen.
All commissioners who were present at the time voted for the ordinance. Both Mayor Richard Cortez and Police Chief Victor Rodriguez supported their vote. Rodriguez particularly liked how the new ordinance sent a clear message regarding phone use while driving, making clear what was and was not legal.
While the new ban was in line with certain other trends that were happening across the country, the McAllen measures went further in also forbidding “viewing or accessing other data that uses commonly recognized communications protocol”.
This would extend the ban to various apps whose primary function is messaging, as well as common forms of social media.
The J. Gonzalez Law Firm recognizes the measures that have already been put in place right here in the city of McAllen to protect everyone on the road from distracted drivers. We know that the majority of drivers will follow these safety guidelines.
However, our jobs as personal injury lawyers are to step in when someone becomes negligent of these rules and injures somebody else.
If you’ve been hurt by a distracted driver, contact us today at 956-630-6700. We are here to make sure that you and your family have the legal support you need to find the justice and financial compensation you deserve after you’ve been injured in a car accident.
Our lawyers have the experience you need to help you get back on your feet. We will not stop until you have the justice you deserve; let us succeed for you and your family.