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Austin Cellphone Ban Fills "Distracted Driving" Gap in Texas Law

Distracted driving remains legal in six states, including Texas, but some local municipalities are passing laws to fill this gap in state legislature. One of these cities is Austin, which recently passed a law that bans texting and using electronic devices while driving.

22 cities across the state have passed similar laws - ones that disallow drivers from using handheld electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle.

Some other cities with similar bans are:

  • El Paso
  • McAllen
  • Mission
  • Galveston
  • San Antonio
  • Corpus Christi
  • Tyler
  • Denton
  • Arlington
  • Grand Prairie
  • Farmers Branch
  • And More

What Austin's New Law Means for Drivers

After passing the law in August, Austin implemented the ordinance on January 1 st, 2015. Now, drivers who are found behind the wheel with an electronic device in hand are subject to a $500 fine.

Past laws failed to give law enforcement enough leeway to actually punish distracted drivers. According to news sources, the old law only allowed police to pull someone over for textingwhile driving.

This means that, until beginning of the new year, drivers were allowed to talk on the phone, dial phone numbers, etc., without breaking the law. Since it is nearly impossible to differentiate between a driver who is texting and one who is dialing a phone number, police were unable to enforce the texting ban.

Now, electronic devices are only permitted at red lights or in gridlock traffic. Electronic devices are always prohibited in school zones.

How serious is the distracted driving problem in the United States?

In 2013, researchers found that more than 36% of drivers named cell phones as the biggest threat to their safety while driving. 70% said that they were involved (or nearly involved) in a cellphone-related car accident.

According to additional research, more than 3,000 people were killed in distraction-related crashes in 2012. In the same year, over 400,000 people suffered injuries caused by distracted drivers.

What to Do If You Are In an Accident with a Distracted Driver

If you suffered an injury in a car accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your medical expenses - especially if a distracted driver caused the collision.

Distracted drivers are legally liable for the injuries, property damage, and wrongful death caused by their negligent actions, and victims have the right to pursue compensation through personal injury claims or lawsuits.

At Tracey & Fox, our team of San Antonio personal injury attorneys is committed to helping people like you - people who suffered an injury by no fault of their own - recover the financial compensation that they deserve after an accident.

Schedule a legal consultation with an attorney from our law firm to learn more about your options and rights. To start your case evaluation, fill out our online form.

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