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Published On: Tue, Nov 1st, 2016

Texas Still One of Only Four States Without a Texting While Driving Ban

Time and time again, it has been proven that driving while texting puts all other drivers at risk. Cases of distracted driving have garnered international attention, leading the makers of mobile apps, automobiles and cellular devices to issue warning to users about texting while driving. Lawmakers in 46 of the 50 US states have updated their laws to outright ban texting while driving, but Texas remains unmoved. The good news is that some municipalities within the state of Texas have made efforts to outlaw texting while driving, allowing local authorities to issue tickets and injured parties to file suit. For instance, a San Antonio personal injury lawyer can be hired by a driver who has been physically injured by a driver harmed by someone who was texting and driving. In other Texas cities, this is not always an option.

Who is Held Liable in Texas Texting While Driving Cases

Car accident cases are generally clear cut when fault can be attributed. When two parties get into a serious collision, the police are notified and summoned to the scene of the accident. Both parties give their perspectives on how the accident occurred, witnesses are interviewed, and most of the time, the reporting officer is able to deduce who is actually at fault. Unfortunately, an at-fault driver who was texting while driving cannot be cited when there are no laws that establish that his or her actions were illegal. This happens frequently in the state of Texas because drivers are lawfully permitted to text while driving.

As a result, the party who was not texting while driving will need to pay medical bills and auto repairs without remuneration. Since fault won’t be attributed at the scene of a crime, injured parties do have the option of filing claims with their insurance providers, but the outcome is often bleak. Insurance companies in the state of Texas are aware of the issue, but they can only look to lawmakers to eventually come to a resolution.

photo Oregon Department of Transportation

photo Oregon Department of Transportation

Recourse for Victims of Texting While Driving

As outrageous as it is, the majority of cities in Texas simply do not recognize texting while driving to be a danger. Recent research has shown that texting while driving not only causes drivers to become distracted, it also hinders motor skills, response rates and reflexes. Really and truly, there are very few if any benefits to utilizing this modern convenience while operating a motor vehicle. People who have been in accidents with drivers who text and drive can’t report it to the police in Texas as it is not an offense, and filing an insurance claim when there is not a clear at-fault driver only results in increased premiums.

The only other options for victims of texting while driving in Texas is to file suit against the companies that make it possible for people to text and drive in the first place. The relatives of a driver who was killed by a negligent texter have attempted to shine a light on the issue by filing suit against a major mobile phone manufacturer. Since the case is still pending, it is not clear whether or not Texas will eventually move to outlaw texting while driving.

Partial Ban on Texting While Driving in Texas

The laws on texting while driving in Texas are actually pretty clear. If you are over the age of 18 and not currently operating a school bus, you are legally permitted to text while driving in most places in Texas. Since texting while driving laws have been established in the parts of the state of Texas, plaintiffs of civil actions have an affirmative defense. In other words, this makes it even more difficult for victims to attain relief in texting while driving cases within the state of Texas. Only residents of a few select cities in Texas can move forward with legal action against parties who text while drive, because recent changes in the law have banned it.

Residents of the state of Texas who reside in cities that have not banned texting while driving have a few different ways that they can protect themselves. Remaining aware and alert while driving can help you to avoid people who are texting while driving, but it will not outright eliminate this risk factor. Pressing Texas lawmakers to treat texting while driving as a serious offense can eventually lead to positive change. Alternatively, relocating to a different Texas city that has a texting while driving ban will at least enable you to move forward with legal action if you become injured, and empower you to notify the authorities if you observe another party breaking the law.

Author: Joao Pedro

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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