Each state has its own law for dealing with the danger of distracted driving. Texas’ law is not one of the stronger ones. It restricts hands-on use of cellphones while driving but does not fully ban it. In fact, for adult drivers, the only time they are not allowed to use their phones (other than for text messages) is in school zones.
Overall, the various state-level efforts to reduce serious injuries and deaths in distracted driving car accidents have yet to work. According to Forbes, in 2019, 3,142 died in wrecks caused by distracted drivers. That was a 10 percent increase over the previous year.
This could be in part due to the patchwork of laws across the country. As we said above, Texas allows handheld phone use in most cases. Other states ban it completely. Then there are states like Alaska that let drivers use their hands to do anything on their phone, in any situation, except texting.
What works to reduce distracted driving crashes
A recent report by the Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Program examines what the most effective anti-distracted driving laws and safety efforts from across the U.S. have in common. Here are their findings:
- Clear, unambiguous language describing when drivers can or cannot use their phones
- Penalties and fines that are similar to other traffic violations
- Efforts by law enforcement to catch distracted drivers combined with public campaigns warning that distracted driving is dangerous
- Sustained coalition-building efforts
In time, more serious efforts to eliminate distracted driving in Texas would make our highways and streets safer. Until then, distracted drivers will continue causing serious harm to people. Our attorney, Jim Freeman, works every day to help people affected by a preventable motor vehicle accident get fair compensation.