Austin Personal Injury Blog

Senate Proposes "Hands-Free" Cell Phone Law

Posted By The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC || 7-Jan-2019

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) claims that distracted driving is responsible for over 100,000 motor vehicle collisions each year – and that’s just in Texas! Despite annual awareness campaigns and increasing legislative measures, Texans just can’t seem to keep their eyes on the road and off their cell phone screens. In fairness, this is a national epidemic and not just a state-wide issue; in fact, cell phone use is reportedly responsible for over 1.6 million accidents each year.

Going Hands-Free

In 2017, the 85th Texas Legislative Session passed a bill that prohibits motorists from reading, writing, or sending electronic messages while driving. Sadly, costly fines weren’t enough to stop drivers from using their cell phones.

To protect motorists, South Texas lawmaker Judith Zaffirini has filed a state-wide bill, Senate Bill no. 43, that will override all previous cell phone ordinances if approved during the 86th Texas Legislative Session. According to this bill, all cell phone use while driving is restricted to voice-operated technology or push-to-talk functions. Drivers are only allowed to use their hands to activate or deactivate their hands-free devices, and not while operating a vehicle.

Sgt. Michael Barger of the Austin Police Department explains, “If you pick up your phone in the city of Austin and you’re not making an emergency call or taking some sort of emergency action with your phone, then that is a violation of our city ordinance. If you pick up your phone and you text, then you’re violating state law.” However, some critics are concerned about how effectiveness of this law, citing that previous legislative measures haven’t been able to decrease the annual fatality and injury rates.

Injured by a Distracted Driver? Schedule a Consultation Today

It takes a driver approximately five seconds to read or send a text. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission, that’s “like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. In those few seconds, a distracted driver can miss slowing vehicles, merging traffic, pedestrians, and construction zone warnings.

If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, contact the Austin car accident lawyer at The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC. Our firm provides exceptional legal services, compassionate guidance, and skillful courtroom representation to the residents of Texas. When your medical bills start piling up, it’s time to review your legal options and pursue compensation. We can negotiate with insurance companies and litigate on your behalf in court to secure a beneficial settlement or verdict.

We’re available 24/7! Contact The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC at (512) 271-5112 to schedule a consultation.

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