On June 6, 2017, Governor Greg Abbott signed into law House Bill 62, which will ban texting, reading and writing from a handheld phone while the user is driving. The law goes into effect on September 1, 2017. Under the new law, a driver may not use a portable wireless communication device to read, write, or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped. Violation of this law is a misdemeanor, with fines ranging from $25 to $99 for first offenses and $100 to $200 for subsequent citations.
This is the first time Texas has enacted a statewide ban on texting while driving. For years, texting while driving bans have been handled at the local level in town and city ordinances. Since 2009, more than 90 Texas cities have enacted ordinances limiting cell phone use while driving. Previous attempts at a statewide ban were rejected in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDot) estimates that 1 in 5 crashes in Texas are caused by distracted driving. According to TxDot, there were 109,658 crashes in Texas related to distracted driving last year. This was a 3 percent increase over 2015. In these accidents, 455 people were killed and more than 3,000 were seriously injured. Such crashes are most common among drivers aged 16 to 34.
TxDot states that texting while driving is particularly dangerous, as reaction times can double. At 55 mph, a driver that is texting may lose sight of the road for five or more seconds. During that time, the car can travel the length of an entire football field!
If you or a loved one have been injured by a distracted driver, you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.
What if I was injured in an accident while I was using my phone?
Currently, more than 90 Texas cities have ordinances restricting cell phone use while driving. On September 1, 2017, a statewide ban on texting and driving will go into effect. If you are texting and driving in Texas, you are, or very soon will be, breaking the law. However, this does not mean that you are barred from recovery for injuries caused by another’s negligence. Texas tort law employs what is known as “Proportionate Responsibility.” Under Proportionate Responsibility, the jury determines the percentage of fault of each party to an accident. If you are only partly at fault, you may still be able to recover for the other driver’s negligence. You may recover under Proportionate Responsibility only if you are less than 50% at fault. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, you need the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Vehicle accidents can be caused by a wide range of factors. Some of these, such as product defects, may have nothing to do with negligence. For example, a defective braking or steering system may cause your vehicle to crash regardless of cell phone use. In such situations, you may have a claim against the vehicle manufacturer. Manufacturer defect cases are complex and highly technical. If you believe you have been injured due to a vehicle defect, hire a skilled and experienced lawyer to defend you!
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Auto and Motorcycle Accidents
Automobile and motorcycle accidents are the leading cause of personal injury and death in the U.S., with almost three million injuries and over 40,000 deaths each year. If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident because of the negligence of others, you may be entitled to payments for personal injury or wrongful death. We may be able to help you to recover payments for medical and funeral expenses, lost wages, physical pain and emotional suffering, disability, and future losses. Contact Frank Giunta today if you’ve been in a car accident – Call 1-800-515-7200.