What Are the Laws on Texting While Driving in Texas?

In just a single recent year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded 3,142 distracted driving-related fatalities in the United States. These incidents are tragically common, and what’s more, a distracted driving-related death can occur in a matter of seconds.

Of course, nobody is immune to the urge to glance at a cell phone or other device while driving. What was formerly regarded as solely a habit of reckless, risk-taking teenagers now affects all generations of motorists. Although teens and inexperienced drivers continue to represent the biggest risk category for texting while driving, individuals of all ages routinely look away from the road to use their phones while driving.

Needless to say, the proliferation of mobile phones and other hand-held gadgets has substantially impacted driving on U.S. highways. These gadgets, which are no longer considered a luxury but a need, are constantly available to offer you the ability to communicate, research, and be entertained at any given time.

Clearly, all too many drivers are distracted by their mobile devices, placing themselves and others in danger of injury or death in an accident. But laws and various restrictions banning mobile phone usage on the road offer authorities a way to address and prevent these completely avoidable collisions.

Traffic Accidents Caused By Texting in Texas

If you’ve traveled on Texas roadways, you’ve probably seen someone driving dangerously. How often are these motorists on their phones when you pull up next to them?

Unsurprisingly, distracted driving accounts for 25% of all motor vehicle collision deaths across our state. For instance, in 2017, 19% of all automobile crashes in Texas were caused by distracted driving. What’s more, at least 444 fatalities and 2,887 severe injuries resulted from the 100,687 collisions caused by texting while driving or similar distractions.

Almost six years after these initial figures were released, distracted driving continues to be an issue in Texas. About one-fifth of all motor vehicle collisions in Texas that took place last year were caused by a distracted driver, resulting in 431 fatalities and 2,934 severe injuries.

Meanwhile, driver distraction is responsible for 58% of auto accidents involving teen drivers, and in fatal incidents, teenagers are the age group most likely to report distracted driving in the aftermath.

Is Texting While Driving Illegal in Texas?

What Are the Laws on Texting While Driving in Texas?To limit the frequency of catastrophic accidents caused by texting and driving, several jurisdictions have implemented stringent anti-texting and driving legislation and launched programs to urge drivers to prioritize road safety. Presently, 48 states prohibit texting while driving. Twenty-five states have taken these rules a step further by outlawing the use of all hand-held devices while driving.

In September 2017, officials enacted legislation making texting while driving illegal across Texas. The state of Texas bans drivers from reading, writing, or transmitting electronic communications while operating a motor vehicle. The maximum penalty for a first texting violation in Texas is $99, while any future offenses have a maximum fine of $200.

Under Texas law, kids under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a mobile phone while driving, even hands-free headphones, unless in an emergency. The use of mobile phones is strictly banned in school zones, and while it may seem obvious, school bus drivers are barred from using their cell phones when transporting students.

Here is a quick breakdown of Texas law on texting while driving:

  • Texting behind the wheel of a moving vehicle is prohibited in Texas. Texting while driving is defined as sending or receiving communications while operating a motor vehicle.
  • Driving through a school zone with a cell phone or other handheld device is prohibited.
  • For the first six months of driving, persons with a learner’s permit are prohibited from using a mobile phone in any fashion.
  • All drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using these devices while driving.
  • Bus drivers are prohibited from using their mobile phones in any way when transporting children.

Although the implementation of this legislation is a step in the right direction toward reducing the occurrence of distracted driving-related injuries and deaths, texting while driving continues to pose a grave danger to the safety of drivers and passengers on Texas highways.

Exceptions to Texas Law on Cell Phone Usage

While transmitting text messages or emails while driving a motor vehicle in Texas is prohibited, the law enables other mobile phone activities that might lead to harmful diversions and accidents.

For example, Texas law prohibits texting while operating a moving vehicle. But, the same behavior is specifically permitted when a vehicle is pulled over or while a driver is stopped at a red light or stop sign.

This may increase the risk of accidents at busy intersections for pedestrians, cyclists, and others. When drivers take their eyes off the road, even at a stop sign or red light for a few seconds, they must refocus their attention whenever traffic starts moving again. This lapse in focus and attention affects reaction time, making drivers more prone to careless errors.

Similarly, Texas law does not bar drivers from using a hands-free device to chat on the phone, program a GPS, or even play music while their car is in motion.

Call an Auto Accident Attorney at Rasanky Law Firm

Despite the existence of laws prohibiting drivers from using handheld electronics behind the wheel, an alarming number of accidents are still caused by these distracted drivers. Using a mobile phone, eating, reaching for items in the backseat, and participating in other behaviors that take your attention off the roadway result in serious crashes.

Thankfully, you have options if you’ve been involved in a car accident with a distracted driver.

Our team at the Rasansky Law Firm specializes in assisting individuals in your situation, and over the course of many decades, we’ve gained the trust of our clients across Texas.

If you have been injured in a car accident in Texas and have questions about your legal options, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Dallas car accident lawyers at 214-617-1816. We’re here to help you and yours with a free initial case evaluation and can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Note: The information that was utilized in this post was gathered from the use of secondary sources. This information used has not been confirmed or independently verified. If you locate any information that is not correct, please contact our firm as soon as possible so that we can make the appropriate corrections. If you find any information that is false, we will remove or correct the post immediately after it is brought to our attention.

Disclaimer: As a valued member of the Dallas community, Rasansky Law Firm’s goal is to improve the safety of all residents in the great state of Texas. These posts should not be viewed as a solicitation for business and the information included herein should not be taken as medical or legal advice. The photos used in this post are not representative of the actual crash scene.

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