The Danger of Using a Cell Phone While Driving
Cell phone use while driving causes numerous unnecessary car accidents every year. Unfortunately, these unnecessary crashes are often severe, commonly resulting in serious injuries or death. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), cell phone use and other forms of distracted driving killed 2,841 in 2018 alone. This includes 1,730 drivers, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians and 77 bicyclists that were all killed by distracted drivers.
Even though they make up only a small portion of the drivers on Texas roadways, statistics have shown that cell phone use while driving is far more prevalent among teenage drivers. Cell phone use combined with that lack of overall driving experience among teenage drives means they are not only more likely to be using their cell phone while driving, but also more likely to cause a crash when they do so.
Due to the danger distracted driving presents, Texas recently passed laws making it a crime to any electronic messages while driving. While the penalty for texting while driving is relatively minor, a misdemeanor with a fine between $25 and $99 and up to $200 for repeat offenders, if someone causes a crash while texting and driving, the consequences could be much more serious. For example, if they cause a car accident resulting in serious injury or death, they could be fined up to $4,000 and spend one year in jail. It’s possible they could also be charged with criminally negligent homicide or vehicular manslaughter, both of which could result in even large fines and longer sentences.
This law bans not only texting while driving but also using other apps to send or receive messages, such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Tik Tok. Texas does allow for some limited use of a cell phone while driving, including the use of hands-free functions and GPS. However, looking at or operating a cell phone, even for these limited purposes while driving is still illegal and, more importantly, dangerous. This means that activating the hands-free or GPS on your phone must be done while the vehicle is stopped. More information on the Texas law governing cell phone use while driving is available here.