Legal Consequences of Distracted Driving


One of the most frequent causes of car accidents is the lack of attention from drivers. Distracted driving is when the driver’s attention deviates from driving for different reasons.

The number of reasons drivers are distracted continues to grow and the number of traffic accidents continues to rise as a consequence. A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that there were about 3,500 fatal car accidents due to distraction in 2015, 8.8% more than in 2014. Lack of attention to the steering wheel and smartphone distractions are some of the biggest concerns on the road.

There is an incredible risk of being distracted by the wheel. And if you are the victim of an accident caused by a distracted driver, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the other driver if there is sufficient proof that he/she was distracted.

Types of distractions behind the wheel

The use of smartphones is one of the most common distractions in recent times, but there are many other distractions that occur while driving.

These are divided into three separate categories.

Manual distractions

Manual distractions occur when the driver is distracted by something that involves occupying their hands, which impairs their ability to fully control the vehicle.

These are some of the most common distractions that have caused accidents over the years. Some examples are:

  • Sending or replying to text messages
  • Browsing the internet on the phone
  • Attending or making a call
  • Eating and drinking
  • Personal hygiene (putting on clothes, combing hair, putting on makeup, etc.)

Visual distractions

While manual distractions make drivers take their hands off the wheel, visual distractions make them take their eyes off the road. Sometimes these are two types of distractions that overlap; Texting while driving means being distracted manually and visually. Other examples include:

  • Reading text messages
  • Reading any type of content on your cell phone
  • Looking in the mirror
  • Looking at a map / GPS and/or looking at a passenger while talking
  • Watching a video on an electronic device, including smartphones or other digital entertainment systems

What the law says

Most states have enacted some kind of law or regulation that prohibits distracted driving. The general definition of what constitutes “distracted driving” in a way that would make it illegal is that the driver is doing something that has no relation to the obligations associated with the act of driving a vehicle and impairs his ability to drive safely.

The details of these laws vary from state to state. Some states have gone out of their way to prohibit certain distractions known in their statutes like reading, writing, grooming, makeup, etc.

The most common distracted driving laws, as expected, revolve around the use of the cell phone. These laws also vary from place to place. Some prohibit any use of a cell phone while driving. Other laws may be specifically intended for specific groups of people, such as bus drivers or “novice” drivers, which generally refer to drivers under the age of 18.

Texting while driving within the state of Texas is punishable by a fine of $25-99 for first-time offenders, and $100-200 for repeat offenders (though no points will be assigned). This law also states that if an accident caused by texting and driving results in the death or serious bodily injury of another person, they can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000 and confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year (in addition to any other charges/punishments).

Section 545.4251 of the Texas Transportation Code – “Use of Portable Wireless Communication Device for Electronic Messaging; Offense”

“Electronic message” means data that is read from or entered into a wireless communication device for the purpose of communicating with another person.

An operator commits an offense if the operator uses a portable wireless communication device to read, write, or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped.

Don’t text and drive, it’s a crime in Texas.

If you or one of your loved ones was involved in a car accident, you may be entitled to claim for fair compensation. The attorneys at P&M Law are experts in traffic accident cases in Texas. For a free consultation, complete our online form now. If we do not win, we do not charge you.

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