New Texting While Driving Law in Texas: “It Can Wait”

by Terry Bryant

Texting while driving is a dangerous distraction – and as of September 1, 2017, it will be illegal in Texas.

In May, Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a measure that bans driver texting and emailing while the vehicle is moving. This law expands the current law that prohibits texting in school zones.

Texting while driving worries officials more than any other driving distraction because this activity involves 3 types of distraction:

  • Manual distraction – because your hands are off the wheel,
  • Visual distraction – as you look at your smartphone screen, and
  • Cognitive distraction – when you think about the text you read/write.

In fact, when you consider that the average text takes 5 seconds to send, texting while driving at 55 miles per hour is equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed!

“It Can Wait”

The name of the new law – “It Can Wait” – precisely conveys the message that lawmakers want Texas drivers to understand. There is no text message so important that it cannot wait until the driver has stopped the vehicle in a safe place.

The number of people killed or injured in distracted driving accidents is growing every day. In 2015, 3,477 people died in the U.S. in accidents involving a distracted driver. That’s an average of almost 10 every day. (Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA)

The potential for distracted driving accidents is huge with 660,000 drivers using cellphones every daylight hour! Not surprisingly, teens are the largest age group involved in these fatal crashes.

Texas Establishes Stiff Penalties for Violating Texting While Driving Law

Under the new law, first time texting while driving offenders risk a fine of between $25-$99, while repeat offenders will be fined between $100-$200.

If an accident caused by texting and driving results in a fatality or serious bodily injury of another person, the driver can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. This charge comes with a fine not to exceed $4,000 and a jail term not to exceed one year.

For more information especially on how to discuss this subject with your teen driver, visit the NHTSA Distracted Driving website.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a careless or distracted driver, contact the experienced auto accident attorneys at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law to learn more about your legal options. We have been helping clients in Texas for more than three decades get the compensation they deserve. Contact us today by filling out our online contact form or giving us a call at 1 (800) 444-5000 or locally in the Houston area at (713) 973-8888.