In 2017, Texas lawmakers, awareness groups, and various safety organizations noticed a disconcerting increase in the number of traffic collisions and fatalities in The Lone Star State. This tragic rise was accurately attributed to distracting advancements in cell phone technology. According to a Cambridge Mobile Telematics study released in 2017, one in four motor vehicle accidents happen because a driver is texting on a cell phone instead of paying attention to the road. This statistic is reflected in the 1,000+ distracted driving collisions that happen each day in the United States.
House Bill 62
State lawmakers reviewed the numbers, listened to experts, and debated amendments before finally passing House Bill 62 with a 23-8 vote. One of the bill’s authors, State Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, made the following statement after it was passed: “For a long time, Texas has needed this law to prevent the loss of life in unnecessary and preventable crashes and we finally have it. This delivers a strong message to Texas drivers to stop texting, put down their phone, and keep their eyes on the road. Like AT&T says: It can wait.”
Prior to HB 62, Texas was one of four states that still didn’t have a statewide-ban on texting and driving. The new law ultimately took effect on September 1, 2018, making it illegal for all drivers to read, write, or send electronic messages while operating a motor vehicle. Motorists can still talk on their phones while driving, but only if they’re using a hands-free device. Of course, using your cell phone to request emergency assistance or to report illegal activity are considered exceptions to this law.
A Change in Statistics
Earlier this month, the Insurance Council of Texas (ICT) released its annual report on traffic fatalities in Texas. Since 2010, there has been a noted 34% increase in the number of deaths caused by motor vehicle drivers. Since House Bill 62 went into effect, there has already been a 4% decrease in the number of fatal crashes and pedestrian casualties.
Mark Hanna, an ICT staff member, claims that HB 62 deserves credit for this improvement. He said, “The one factor that may have contributed to the drop in fatalities last year is the state’s new law banning texting while driving.”
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While House Bill 62 is definitely a step in the right direction, it likely won’t stop all drivers from participating in dangerous driving behaviors. Both teenagers and adult drivers are guilty of keeping one eye on the road and another on their cell phone. If you’ve been injured by the poor choices of a negligent driver, contact the Austin distracted driving accident attorneys at The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC. We can investigate your case, determine a liable party, and help you pursue the compensation your injuries warrant.
Contact The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC at (512) 271-5112 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.