Articles Tagged with Texting and Driving

Distracted Driving
I just attended the monthly meeting of the Fort Worth Safe Communities Coalition.I serve on the Road Safety Task Force with officials from the Fort Worth Police Department, City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, and other government leaders. Our goal is to make Fort Worth roads and highways safer. As always, the subject of texting while driving and how we can discourage that extremely dangerous practice came up, but we have no good solutions. And everywhere I go, people tell me they were almost in a car accident or saw another driver weaving and they were staring at or using their cell phones. We all know that texting while driving is out of control. Some people have asked if it is against the law.

Yes texting while driving is a crime but …

Texas became one of the last states in the country to ban texting while driving. Four previous attempts had failed. As a result, over 100 cities had already enacted their own ordinances because they could see how deadly this practice had become.

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 Texting Ban

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.

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New Law Not Working

The number of injuries and deaths caused by distracted driving in Texas keeps increasing every year.

It’s the new normal. We take it for granted. But this is a serious mistake we are making.

We at Berenson Injury Law were hopeful when Texas finally became one of the last states to adopt an anti-texting while driving law last year. But unfortunately that hasn’t stopped — or even slowed — this deadly problem on our roads.

The Texas Department of Transportation reported a shocking increase of 20% of distracted driving crashes last year.

Those collisions were responsible for at least 450 of the more than 3,721 people who sadly perished on our roads.

And there’s good reason to believe that this number is far higher, as it is often impossible to know exactly what caused a car crash.

Even before the new state-wide texting while driving law was finally passed, this was such a vital issue to public safety that 100 cities had already enacted statutes to prevent their residents.

It’s also made drivers far less likely to admit they were texting before the accident. They know it’s illegal and no one wants to take the blame for an accident; especially if they are responsible for another person’s serious injuries or death.

There’s also the issue of single driver accidents. A car might run off the road because of a deer . . . or be distracted by an incoming text. If there aren’t any witnesses, it’s often a matter of taking the driver’s word about what happened.

If the accident ends in a fatality, law enforcement officers never know what caused the wreck, so the numbers are artificially lowered and we are not as afraid to text as we blissfully drive on roads at 65 or more miles per hour.

We talk about this alarming topic a lot on our site because this is a problem that needs to stop.

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These helpful apps can lower your chances of being in a car wreck

For the first time in Texas history, texting while driving is illegal. Finally! We were almost the last state to outlaw this incredibly dangerous practice. The new law just started on September 1st and many people still don’t know about it.

Texting and Driving

And the common habit of tweeting or surfing the net at 60 MPH will be hard to break. After all, we are all addicted to our cell phones.

Is there a way to prevent getting a ticket or far worse, causing an auto accident? Yes, fortunately. The Fort Worth Star Telegram just reviewed several new apps that you might find helpful. I discussed some of them here.

1. Do Not Disturb While Driving. On Tuesday Apple unveiled the new iOS 11 software and iPhone 8 which include an exciting Do Not Disturb feature that you can enable when you get into your car — or make your teenager do. The feature blocks text messages and phone calls and sends an automatic reply that the user is driving. The driver can still receive phone calls through a hands-free device. The app eliminates the temptation to take a peek when a ping announces a text message.

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