Every city has its own set of consequences for using your cell phone while driving in Texas. First offenses will typically result in a fine, second offenses in a higher fine, and subsequent offenses in fine and possible incarceration. Using your phone to text, surf social media, or make calls that are not hands-free are all violations of the law and will result in these criminal consequences and threaten your driving privileges.
In addition to criminal penalties, if you are using your cell phone and are involved in an accident, the injured party can cite your use of a cell phone as negligence and seek recovery of a range of damages. The safest way to use your cell phone while driving is in a hands-free way that does not require you to take your hands off the steering wheel or your eyes off the road.
Cell Phone Use Is Carefully Regulated in Texas
The state of Texas takes distracted driving seriously and provides clear directions for when a driver’s cell phone use is banned. According to Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) guidelines, you cannot:
- Send or receive text messages, emails, or other electronic communication while driving
- Use a cell phone at all within the first six months of obtaining a learner’s permit
- Use a cell phone or any other handheld device in a school zone
- Use a cell phone at all while driving if you are 18 or younger
- Use a cell phone at all if you are a school bus driver and children are on your bus
- Using any handheld device in your vehicle in a school zone is illegal.
In 2018, 400,000 people were injured and 2,800 were fatally injured in car accidents caused by drunk driving. Cell phone use is regulated to avoid collisions and to help make Texas roads safe for drivers, motorcyclists, and pedestrians.
Distracted Driving Can Expose You to Financial Liability
As stated, cell phone use can carry hefty fines. In addition, if you are involved in a car accident and others are injured, they may be able to sue you for their post-accident expenses and losses. That could mean you or your insurance company will be liable for the injured party’s:
- Emergency and ongoing medical expenses
- Current and future loss of income
- Property damage or replacement
- Ongoing physical pain and suffering
- Ongoing mental and emotional distress
If you have insurance, they may cover these costs for you. You may have to pay higher insurance rates, though, according to Insurance Information Institute (III) guidelines. These higher rates can last for up to three years after the accident.
How to Avoid the Consequences of Cell Phone Use
Operating a vehicle safely is a full-time responsibility. In other words, it commands — and should have—your complete attention. According to Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, cell phones and other distractions that break your focus are like driving 55mph with your eyes closed.
The following tips can help you avoid using or handling your phone while driving;
- Put your phone on silent mode to avoid the temptation of answering a call or responding to a text message
- Pull your car safely off the road if you need to make a non-emergency phone call
- Adopt hands-free devices that allow you to respond to a call without reaching for or touching your phone
- Designate all cell phone use and activities to a passenger in your vehicle
- Download and install apps that include safety features that prevent your phone from disturbing you while driving
Arriving safely at your destination is more important than making and receiving calls and text messages. Forming good cell phone habits now can help you avoid costly accidents now and in the future.
How to Recover Damages if You Were Injured by a Distracted Driver
After a car accident caused by a driver who was on their phone, obtain a copy of your police report. It will contain details about the collision that may help prove the at-fault driver’s negligence and your right to recovery. It will also tell you how to contact the driver’s insurance representative.
You do not have to fight for recovery without legal support. Consider hiring a personal injury lawyer who can help you build a strong case file and negotiate a favorable settlement. Your lawyer will read and review your police report and medical records. He will also locate and interview witnesses to the accident.
Get a Free Consultation Today
Were you injured in a car accident because the other driver was distracted by his cell phone? Our personal injury lawyer can help you understand the consequences the other driver might face for using a cell phone while driving in Texas. Those consequences can include compensating you for your post-accident expenses.
Learn more by contacting one of our D. Miller & Associates, PLLC™ team members at (713) 850-8600 today.
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