Let’s get one thing straight: in a driver’s life, one of the most dangerous habits they can pick up is texting and driving. This particular form of distracted driving leaves so many drivers operating a motor vehicle while also staring down at their cell phones answering a text message, sending a tweet, posting an Insta, or doing anything else but paying attention, causing accidents and crashes. Sounds crazy, right?
Well, it’s more common than you’d think.
Luckily, Texas lawmakers have elected to turn this dangerous habit into a criminal offense, so that less people will text and drive and more people will pay attention behind the wheel.
This legislation was put into place statewide by legislature that ruled it to be a part of the “patchwork quilt” of local restrictions enforced by Texan municipalities. Basically, law enforcement will take this from city-wide or local ordinance to becoming commonplace, a new law for all drivers in Texas. This does not take away or nullify the other laws existing in cities like San Antonio or El Paso.
So, what’s legal and what’s not?
Texas police officers are looking for those exhibiting dangerous behavior, namely those whose motor vehicles are swerving in and out of lanes, speeding, and obviously staring down or distractedly at electronic messages. If your head is down and your hands are off the wheel, consider your behavior irresponsible.
If you’re one of those people who can’t put down your phone, now is the time.
Most importantly, your behavior behind the wheel puts others’ lives at risk. This was proven true by one Texas church bus crash, which resulted in the deaths of 13 people and one man charged with vehicular manslaughter. The results could be grave.
The results could also be expensive. If you’re caught texting and driving once, you’ll face a fine of up to $99, which isn’t exactly a walk in the park. After that, you face increasing fines, with the stakes even higher while in a school zone or driving while on a learners permit. This adds to more points on your driver’s license and those can mean even more hassle, time, and expense.
Luckily, we live in a world of wireless communication and there are safer options for those who may need to communicate quickly. You can use a hands-free device, including Bluetooth. You can also use a GPS or music streaming services, but you may still get pulled over if you are still too distracted. You can also use your phone at red lights or when making a complete stop, though it’s preferred that you keep your mobile device far enough away to focus on the road.
Laws like these seem like common sense, but actually, this one came about with some resistance and amidst a bit of debate, so much so that its passing resulted in a special session, ending in no new developments.
A similar ban was brought to Texas Legislature back in 2011, but Gov. Rick Perry vetoed it. Four years later, another law like it was brought to the senate, but they also vetoed its passing as well.
This isn’t always common sense and the proof of that is in the shocking number of people who’ve made texting and driving a daily distraction from highway safety. For Texans, this habit is no longer simply dangerous, it’s also prohibited by law.