Texting while driving is more dangerous that driving while intoxicated. The typical text takes five or more seconds to read or send a text. If the person is going 60 mph, the person will go almost one and a half football fields “driving blind.” This means the driver may not see pedestrians or other hazards in the road until it is too late. Here is the math: 60 mph is 1 mile per minute. One mile is 5,280 feet. Divide that by 60 seconds is 88 feet per second times five equals 440 feet traveled in five seconds at 60 mph. That is only 10 feet short of 1 and ½ football fields. Can you imagine driving that far while blindfolded?
Drivers, especially young drivers, think they can text safely, but the numbers don’t lie. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that 11 teen deaths are caused in the USA every day from driving while texting. Over 330.000 injuries are caused each year from driving while texting. According to the National Safety Council, approximately 1,600,000 accidents each year are caused by driving while texting.
Texting while driving is now the leading cause of death among teenagers – surpassing drinking and driving, according to a study by Cohen Children’s Medical Center. Disturbing statistics from the report include: More than 3,000 teens die each year in crashes caused by texting while driving. Approximately 2,700 teens are killed in drunk driving accidents. More than 50 percent of teens admit to texting while driving. Driving while texting is the same as driving after consuming four beers, and makes you 23 times more likely to have a crash, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. It is estimated that almost 25% of all accidents are caused by driving while texting.
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Some cities in Texas, such as Arlington, make it a criminal offense to drive while texting. In 2013, the Texas House and Senate passed a law to make it illegal to text while driving, but then Governor Perry vetoed the bill. Even though it is not considered to be a criminal offense, it is considered to be grossly negligent by Texas juries. It has been recognized as being grossly negligent. In 2015 the Texas House approved a bill prohibiting state wide texting while driving, it did not pass the Texas Senate. There were concerns of whether suspicion could be probable cause for stopping a motorist.
Texas has some laws dealing with cell phones, and they include: Drivers with learners permits are prohibited from using handheld cell phones in the first six months of driving. Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using wireless communications devices. School bus operators are prohibited from using cell phones while driving if children are present. In school zones, all drivers are prohibited from texting and using handheld devices while driving.
The following cities in Texas have ordinances prohibiting texting while driving: Alamo, Alice, Amarillo, Aransas Pass, Arlington, Austin, Bellaire, Brownsville, Canyon, Conroe, Converse, Corpur Christi, Denton, El Paso, Farmers Branch, Galveston, Grand Prairie, Harlingen, Helotes, Laredo, Magnolia, Maypearl, McAllen, Meachowlakes, Mission, Missouri City, Mount Vernon, Nacogdoches, Palmview, Pampa, Penitas, Richwood, Rowlett, San Antonio, Shoreacres, Sinton, Stephenville, Tomball, Universal City, and West University Place.
Most states prohibit drivers from texting, but there has been disagreement over whether the bans reduce traffic accidents. Research from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health that used traffic data from 48 states between 2000 and 2014 found states with bans had a nearly 3 percent drop in accidents. Using that math, the study estimated that about 90 lives could be saved each year in Texas if the ban is approved.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by someone driving while texting, call NOW Law Firm of Roger “Rocky” Walton, P.C., who helps victims in Arlington, Mansfield, Fort Worth, Dallas, and Texas.