To get an idea how big of a problem cell phone use and driving is in Texas, just look out your window. You can’t sit at a stop light for more than a few seconds before you see someone paying more attention to their phone than they are to the road. You may have been tempted to reach for your own device to read a text or check a notification. Before you get behind the wheel again, know what Texas law says when it comes to cell phone use and texting and driving.
Can You Talk on a Cell Phone While Driving in Texas?
When you talk on the phone and drive, you’re distracted. It’s not the same as talking to someone next to you in the car. It diverts some of your attention from the road and takes one hand off the wheel. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, “One in five crashes involves driver distraction. Drivers who use cell phones in their vehicles have a higher risk of collision than drivers who don’t, whether holding the phone or using a hands-free device. “
That being said, for most people it’s not against the law to talk on the phone while driving in Texas. Hands-free is the safest way to do so. If you need to look away from the road to place the call, pull over first.
Do All Drivers Have the Same Restrictions?
No. Drivers under 18 years of age are completely prohibited from using wireless communications devices while driving. No matter what your age, drivers with learner’s permits are also not allowed to use a mobile device while they’re on the road.
In school zones, drivers must refrain from all handheld device use. School bus drivers can’t use their cell phones while driving if they have students on board.
Is There a Hands-Free Law in Texas?
The state doesn’t have a hands-free law, but there are local restrictions. More than 90 cities have laws against cell phone use while driving. TxDOT maintains a list and is the best place to check for hands-free laws in your town.
How Much is a Ticket for Texting and Driving?
If you get pulled over for texting and driving, the first offense results in a fine between $25 and $99. Repeat offenses could cost up to $200. Cell phone use in a school zone is automatically $200, even if it’s your first offense.
Keep in mind the law doesn’t apply just to texting, but to other activities that involve looking at and manipulating your phone. You could also receive a ticket for doing the following:
- Checking email
- Looking at Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat etc.
- Posting to Instagram
- Video chatting
- Internet browsing
Does The Texas Texting Law Prohibit Everything But Talking on the Phone?
The statewide Texas Texting and Driving Law governs how and when drivers can send text messages, but it does allow some manual phone use. Drivers are allowed to use navigation apps on their phones. It’s also not against the law to use your phone to play music. If you can text hands-free, that’s also allowed.
What if Texting and Driving Causes a Car Wreck?
In 2017, Texas had 537,475 motor vehicle crashes and over 100,000 of those involved distracted driving. That’s 19 percent, almost a fifth of the car wrecks in the state.
Those 100,678 car wrecks caused 444 deaths and 2,889 serious injuries. That’s in one year.
It would be great if the new law made people quit using their cell phone while driving, but right now most people haven’t changed their habits. Drivers think they’re still in control of their vehicle, but they’re wrong. At 55 miles per hour, during the time it takes to check a text message, vehicles travel the length of a football field.
Distracted driving accidents kill more people than drunk driving. Texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds and increases chances of a crash by 23 percent. Response times slow, drivers drift out of lanes and stopping distances increase. Then people die.
Texas law might go relatively easy on violators who get pulled over, but courts aren’t so lenient when someone gets hurt.
Texting and driving is distracted driving. Distracted driving is negligence. If a driver causes an accident and someone is injured or killed, the person who was injured (or one of their family members) has the right to sue that driver for damages.
Fighting For Your Rights
If you were in a car accident and the other driver was using their phone when it happened, you need to sit down with a personal injury lawyer. Schedule a free consultation and we can talk about what happened and the best next steps for your case. There’s no obligation to choose Monsour Law Firm, and if you don’t receive a settlement, you never owe us a dime.