New Law Enacted A Year Ago
We’ve been keeping tabs on the Texas texting ban and hoping it makes people drive more responsibly. But the jury is still out on whether the new law is working. While most people agreed that our state should prohibit texting while driving, the new law was so watered down by the Legislature that it has not been effective. In fact, more Texans are texting and driving – and causing car accidents – than ever before.
Texas Department of Public Safety troopers have issued only 1,195 tickets and 4,247 warnings to drivers in the past year according to the Star-Telegram. As much as we’d like to think that these lower-than-expected numbers correlate to fewer drivers texting on their phones, that is wishful thinking.
After the Texas texting ban came into effect on September 1, 2017 the Texas Department of Transportation partnered with AT&T on the It Can Wait campaign to educate drivers about cellphone use. According to the data collected, 89% of Texans admitted that they still use the smartphone while driving, more than before the law was passed.
This is a very serious problem that sites like the Department of Transportation’s Talk Text Crash will not begin to solve. That site reports there were over 537,000 reported crashes in Texas (often police choose not to write police reports so the number is much higher) just last year. A whopping 100,000 of those were caused by cell phone use and distracted driving.
Don’t think that matters? 444 Texans lost their lives in those car wrecks and almost 3,000 were seriously injured. The numbers for 2018 have not been released yet but it is believed they will be even higher based on year to date figures.
Texas is still the worst state when it comes to fatal crashes involving cell phone use while driving — far more than California which has 12 million more people.