The Distracted Driving Epidemic in Texas

Texting while driving

On American roads today, more and more innocent victims are being injured and killed in accidents involving distracted driving, and Texas is not an exception. In 2017, a staggering 100,000 crashes were caused by distracted driving in our state. According to Texas’ Department of Transportation, distracted drivers caused over 400 deaths and 2,800 injuries during the same year.

U.S. regulators are already referring to this trend as an epidemic. While it is not as deadly as drunk driving, distracted driving has caused an average 3,500 fatalities per year between 2012 and 2018. Just like with drunk driving, victims of distracted driving may be entitled to compensation.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

According to a 2019 survey by insurance comparison site The Zebra, 37 percent of young American adults feel pressure to reply to job-related text messages while driving. The survey also revealed that drivers on U.S. roads are surprisingly likely to video-chat, Instagram, and even watch shows on Netflix.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has identified three categories for distracted driving: manual distraction, visual distraction, and cognitive distraction. While it happens at all ages, distracted driving is more deadly for teens. Texting or some related behavior caused nearly 60 percent of accidents involving teenage drivers.

American drivers use their smartphones at some point during 90 percent of trips. Texting while driving is illegal in 16 states, and 47 states have implemented regulations that specifically address distraction on the road. Fines for distracted driving are, however, significantly lower than the current penalties for drunk driving.

In terms of insurance penalties, the premium increase for distracted driving ranges from 56 percent in Vermont to a mere 5 percent in New York.  

Texas Bans Texting While Driving

In September 2017, Texas banned the use of smartphones and other digital devices while driving. With some of the most dangerous roads in America, our state is quickly implementing policies to prevent distracted driving from increasing the number of traffic fatalities.

Unfortunately, the new rules are proving hard to enforce. According to a report by local law enforcement, in over a year, some cities saw only a handful of citations for smartphone use while behind the wheel.   

Because using phones to play music or navigate using GPS is not banned in Texas, officers are finding the new rules challenging to enforce. Proving there has been a violation requires proving what a driver was doing or intended to do when reaching for a smartphone. Fines for the misconduct range from $25 to $200.