In 2017, Texas lawmakers, awareness groups, and various safety organizations
noticed a disconcerting increase in the number of traffic collisions and
fatalities in The Lone Star State. This tragic rise was accurately attributed
to distracting advancements in cell phone technology. According to a Cambridge
Mobile Telematics study released in 2017, one in four motor vehicle accidents
happen because a driver is texting on a cell phone instead of paying attention
to the road. This statistic is reflected in the 1,000+ distracted driving
collisions that happen each day in the United States.
House Bill 62
State lawmakers reviewed the numbers, listened to experts, and debated
amendments before finally passing House Bill 62 with a 23-8 vote. One
of the bill’s authors, State Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland,
made the following statement after it was passed: “For a long time, Texas has needed this law
to prevent the loss of life in unnecessary and preventable crashes and
we finally have it. This delivers a strong message to Texas drivers to
stop texting, put down their phone, and keep their eyes on the road. Like
AT&T says: It can wait.”
Prior to HB 62, Texas was one of four states that still didn’t have
a statewide-ban on texting and driving. The new law ultimately took effect
on September 1, 2018, making it illegal for all drivers to read, write,
or send electronic messages while operating a motor vehicle. Motorists
can still talk on their phones while driving, but only if they’re
using a hands-free device. Of course, using your cell phone to request
emergency assistance or to report illegal activity are considered exceptions
to this law.
A Change in Statistics
Earlier this month, the Insurance Council of Texas (ICT) released its annual
report on traffic fatalities in Texas. Since 2010, there has been a noted
34% increase in the number of deaths caused by motor vehicle drivers.
Since House Bill 62 went into effect, there has already been a 4% decrease
in the number of fatal crashes and pedestrian casualties.
Mark Hanna, an ICT staff member,
claims that HB 62 deserves credit for this improvement. He said, “The one factor that may have contributed
to the drop in fatalities last year is the state’s new law banning
texting while driving.”
Injured by a Distracted Driver? Schedule a Consultation Today.
While House Bill 62 is definitely a step in the right direction, it likely
won’t stop all drivers from participating in dangerous driving behaviors.
Both teenagers and adult drivers are guilty of keeping one eye on the
road and another on their cell phone. If you’ve been injured by
the poor choices of a negligent driver, contact the
Austin distracted driving accident attorneys at The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC. We can investigate your case, determine
a liable party, and help you pursue the compensation your injuries warrant.
Contact The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC at (512) 271-5112 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.