Do you like to text while driving? Unless you also like breaking the law, you should break that habit immediately.
Effective September 1, 2017, House Bill 62 introduces the first Texas statewide ban against texting while driving. Texas governor Greg Abbott opted not to veto over 670 bills from the 2017 Legislature back in May. This bill was part of that group. The statewide ban creates an offense for anyone that is caught sending a text message while behind the wheel.
According to the Texas Tribune, a driver may be cited for using a cell phone “to read, write, or send an electronic message while operating the vehicle.” The recently enforced bill further states that the only time you can legally read, compose or send messages from inside of a vehicle is when it is parked.
How Can They Catch You Texting?
A common question that may pop up in your head is: “How can this law be enforced?” In most cases, people do not normally hold their cell phones near a window or high enough where it’s in plain sight to an officer. According to the Dallas Morning News, there were even some officials that agree the texting ban will be difficult to enforce. However, the report further states that law enforcement officials will “certainly” pull drivers over whenever they suspect a violation is occurring.
Garland police spokesman, Pedro Barineau, explained that officers are able to see the visible signs of this type of distracted driving. This includes swerving cars and vehicles crossing over multiple lanes of traffic. According to Barineau, the initial thought is that the driver is intoxicated. However, an increasing number of these incidents were simply drivers reading and sending text messages.
First-time violators of House Bill 62 may have to pay a $99 fine. Repeat offenders will have to pay up to $200 per offense.
Helpful Tips to Consider
Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you want to stay connected to your mobile device on the road without breaking the law:
- Consider Hands-free Technology: You can still communicate with your family, friends and colleagues on the road by using hands-free technology. For instance, you should consider Bluetooth headsets with voice command technology. Under the new law, writing and sending a text with voice command is not a violation.
- Take Advantage of Red Lights: Keep in mind that you are only breaking the law if you read/check/write text messages while “operating a vehicle” at the moment. However, be mindful of the timing so that you do not create traffic hazards when the light turns green.
What is the Big Deal?
What exactly is the big deal about texting and driving? Drivers who may be angered or frustrated by this statewide text ban may be confused by its importance. The key is to focus on the big picture: The dangers of distracted driving. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 20% of traffic crashes are caused by distracted driving.
If you have been the victim of a distracted driver, do not hesitate to contact a Dallas auto accident attorney today. It never hurts to call and discuss your options during a free consultation.