Despite numerous safety features in vehicles these days, traffic fatalities remain to be a problem across the USA. Each state has different laws regulating the use of cell phones while driving; including texting, talking, or the need for a hands free device. Texas in particular is a state that sees a high rate of fatalities due to distracted driving, but according to the its state laws, texting while driving is not illegal under most circumstances. Below are some statistics on distracted driving in Texas, which should encourage all drivers to remain cautious and vigilant while behind the wheel. While the statistics are up to date, keep in mind that statistics for the whole of 2012 have not yet been released.
Driving Fatalities in Texas
This year so far, Texas has seen 2,545 car-related fatalities. In 2011, Texas had a total of 3,048 car-related fatalities. There can be as many as 10 crashes a day in Texas, and there has been at least one fatal car accident per day since 2000. Shockingly, the last day in Texas without a car-related fatality was November 7, 2000.
Last year, close to 30 percent of the 2,545 car-related fatalities were the result of drivers and passengers not wearing seatbelts. Close to 35 percent of the fatalities were due to alcohol, and 14 percent of the fatalities were because of distracted driving.
Fatalities Related to Distracted Driving
Distracted driving can affect a driver’s reaction time to make it as slow as a 70 year old’s reaction time. In Texas, teenagers are the drivers who are most inclined to talk on a phone or text while driving. In a recent survey, 56 percent of drivers aged 16 to 19 admitted to talking on a phone while driving, and 13 percent admitted to texting while driving. Actual numbers could be even higher than this.
Last year, more than 81,000 crashes were caused because of distracted drivers and 21 percent of fatal crashes with drivers aged 16 to 19 were the result of cellphone usage. Of these crashes, 361 were fatal. Driving while talking on the phone or texting makes a driver 23 times more likely to crash.
Using Phones While Driving in Texas
Right now, in Texas there is no state ban against texting while operating a vehicle. There is unlikely going to be a statewide ban on texting while in a car until midway through 2013. When the ban does come into play, there will likely be a $200 fine.
Right now, Texas law states that drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to use any wireless devices while operating a vehicle. Of course, as shown by the statistics, teenagers are ignoring this restriction. Additionally, drivers with a Learner license are not allowed to use a handheld phone for the first 6 months that they have this license, school bus drivers are not allowed to use a phone while driving if children are in the car, and no drivers can use a phone while in a school crossing zone.
Distracted driving statistics are particularly shocking in the state of Texas, especially considering the number of young drivers who are ignoring restrictions and putting themselves, and other drivers, at risk. Keep these distracted driving statistics in mind the next time you pull out your phone while behind the wheel. Be cautious, follow road rules, and stay safe while on the road.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident that was caused by distracted driving, it is important to seek legal representation to evaluate your case. Roberts & Roberts Law Firm is a Texas law firm with a team of professionals focused on car accident cases. For more information about driving distractions and car accidents, visit the website at www.robertslawfirm.com.