Texas has no single law barring the use of cellphones in vehicles, although many communities prohibit texting while driving. Austin was the first city in our state to pass a no texting ordinance in 2009 and dozens of cities have followed suit.
Interstate truck and bus drivers are bound by cellphone and texting rules created by federal agencies and enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These drivers are restricted from texting under any circumstances while operating a commercial vehicle and may use mobile phones only when devices are hands-free.
The government’s definition of texting includes typing or reading emails and text messages and using any more than one button to operate an electronic device. Hands-free phones must be placed close enough to drivers to allow the person to remain safely restrained. Phones should function using a single-button touch or by voice.
Negligent truck drivers may pay fines up to $2,750 for violating these rules. Repeat offenders can be disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle. Carrier fines run as high as $11,000 — violations also damage Safety Measurement System results.
The risks of trucks and buses being involved in crashes rise dramatically when a driver is engaged with electronic devices. The accident rate increases six times for commercial vehicle operators who use cellphones. Texting while driving a big rig elevates the risk more than 23 times.
Texting requires truckers to ignore driving for about 4.6 seconds. A truck or bus at speeds of 55 miles per hour can cover the length of a football field in the time it takes to text.
Austin injury attorneys understand other consequences are possible when a serious collision occurs due to a carrier or driver’s careless actions. Drivers and truck companies can be named as defendants in personal injury claims. Proof of negligence can result in substantial compensation for victims with truck accident injuries and wrongful death plaintiffs.
Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Distracted Driving,” accessed July 09, 2015