Tickets For Texting While Driving Skyrocket in Austin

Austin — which has unfortunately been in the news in the last several days due to the horrific crash at the SXSW music festival – is one of the few cities in Texas to have enacted a complete ban on texting while driving. As a result, the number of tickets given for texting have skyrocketed in the three-plus years since the ban was first enacted.

In 2010, the first year, Austin police officers issued 116 tickets for texting. In 2011, that number rose to 223 in 2012,244, then in 2013, the number of tickets issued was 366 — more than three times the number in 2010. It adds up to 1900 people getting ticketed for texting while driving.

It is not clear whether more people are texting or whether police officers are just becoming better at spotting and ticketing distracted driving. Regardless, getting a ticket is preferable to the more tragic consequences that happen all too frequently. Musician Ian McLagan shared the story of his wife’s fatal car accident in 2006, which occurred after she briefly checked her messages while driving. In another case, a former assistant city manager got seriously injured after a distracted driver slammed into his motorcycle. He was dragged to the point where his leg got sheared off, and only after numerous surgeries is able to walk again — with the aid of a prosthetic.

Apart from the 25 cities like Austin, Texas bans texting only for drivers younger than 18, bus drivers, and for any driver in school zones. Though Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has shown willingness to join a campaign to curb texting while driving, there has been no move to actually ban the practice. Arlington here in our area is the only city to prohibit this dangerous practice.

Which is unfortunate, as 10% of fatal crashes nationwide can be traced to distracted driving, in addition to 17% of injury crashes. Of the fatal cases, 12% are linked solely to use of cell phone while driving, including talking or texting. The largest age group of distracted drivers, of course, are 15 to 19 year olds.

While Texas remains one of just nine states in the U.S. to have no ban on texting, those who are injured still have the option of filing a lawsuit in court. The injured party would argue that the other driver had a duty of general care to other drivers and passengers on the road, and that such a duty involved behaving reasonably by using caution and obeying the rules of the road. The other driver breached that duty by driving while distracted, such as by texting. As a direct or indirect result of the breach, the injured party suffered injury, and as a result of that, the injured party suffered damage. If the injured party is successful, he or she could get a monetary award that would pay for medical bills, lost wages, and other needs.

I have been representing Texans injured in accidents for over 33 years and have handled a lot of the distracted driving cases. My main office is in Fort Worth but I practice personal injury law across the Metroplex and have cases in different states as well. We just settled a man’s case who had been crashed into in Baltimore, Maryland last year, for example.

I only represent people who have been injured by accidents involving cars, trucks, 18 wheelers, bicycles and motorcycles — often hit by drivers who are DWI. If you want an experienced Board Certified Fort Worth personal injury attorney who will provide you with compassionate legal representation, contact my office today to schedule a free initial consultation.

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