Is Texting While Driving a Crime in Texas?

Distracted Driving

I just attended the monthly meeting of the Fort Worth Safe Communities Coalition.I serve on the Road Safety Task Force with officials from the Fort Worth Police Department, City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, and other government leaders. Our goal is to make Fort Worth roads and highways safer. As always, the subject of texting while driving and how we can discourage that extremely dangerous practice came up, but we have no good solutions. And everywhere I go, people tell me they were almost in a car accident or saw another driver weaving and they were staring at or using their cell phones. We all know that texting while driving is out of control. Some people have asked if it is against the law.

Yes texting while driving is a crime but …

Texas became one of the last states in the country to ban texting while driving. Four previous attempts had failed. As a result, over 100 cities had already enacted their own ordinances because they could see how deadly this practice had become.

The new law became effective about two years ago on September 1, 2017. It bans motorists from using a portable device to write, send, or read messages while the vehicle is moving.

But unlike in many states, Texans can still use hand-held cell phones to make and receive calls.

If you are caught, you face a fine from $25.00 to $99.00. If you are somehow charged a second (or more) time, a judge can set the fine from $100.00 to $200.00.

The odds of this happening are slender.  A police office must actually see you texting while driving, which is obviously hard for him or her to see – and we have a noticeable lack of police on the roads. As a result, very few tickets have been issued.

Why we must do a better job restricting cell phone use

A shocking 40,000 people die each year on our country’s highways and roads in motor vehicle collisions. Think about TCU’s football stadium nearly filled with people if you are having trouble visualizing how many lives are lost every year. Distracted driving is one of the top three causes of those deaths, along with driving while intoxicated and speeding.

And a study showed that more Texans are using their phones now than before the law was passed. About 90% of drivers admit to doing this — in other words, just about everyone next to you is probably texting while driving or at least dialing a number next to you at some point during your drive.

This helps explain why Texas had over 537,000 car wrecks last year, with 100,000 plus said to have been caused by distracted driving. And I believe that number is much higher, since no one is going to admit that to the investigating patrol officer. 80,000 of those collisions were here in Tarrant and Dallas Counties.

Consider that if a driver takes his or her eyes off of the road to read or send a short test, they won’t see other vehicles for at least five seconds on average. If they are traveling at 55 miles per hour, that’s about 100 yeards, the length of a football field. Talk about an accident waiting to happen!

You might not think that is a big problem until you are crashed into or someone rear ends your vehicle.

We can help

As a Fort Worth car accident lawyer, I have helped thousands of people over the past 39 years. But I see more and more distracted driving collisions with each passing year. They are sadly the new norm.

Please contact my office if you have any questions about your car or truck crash. You can reach us at 1-888-801-8585 or by clicking here.

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