Look Around — and Pray
Financial website WalletHub has just ranked Texas as the state with the most lenient enforcement of speeding and reckless driving laws. Our lack of enforcement is particularly frightening considering we have the country’s third worst drivers.
To establish each state’s degree of enforcement, the authors of the study awarded points for various factors, including speeding ticket fines, jail sentences for reckless driving and insurance premium increases for traffic citations. The states with the highest scores had the strictest enforcement. It shows in the never-ending mayhem on our roads that we take for granted. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In Colorado, you’ll spend 10 days in jail for reckless driving, but here, a police report may not even be written, and you won’t be charged unless someone is killed.
How Can Texas Improve?
Texas lawmakers need to pass stricter statutes that hold drivers more accountable for their dangerous conduct. Current penalties amount to a slap on the wrist for potentially fatal driving habits. For example, a reckless driver does not face jail time or driver’s license suspension and may only be fined $200 for a first or second offense. There is no amount above the speed limit at which a Texas driver is automatically charged with reckless driving and there are no additional penalties for aggressive driving. Also, Texas does not use cameras to clock and cite speeding drivers. And we’re moving backwards as legislators have voted out red-light cameras.
Lawmakers Refuses to Curtail Cell Phone Use
Texas is one of only four states that do not ban texting while driving. I often hear at-fault drivers saying they never saw my client’s vehicle – often in broad daylight. And talking on a cell phone is as dangerous as driving while intoxicated, but it is almost always legal as well.
Texas Leads the Country in Drunk Driving Deaths
Drunk driving enforcement was also not considered in the study. But we’ve failed miserably at DWI enforcement as well. Texas is the leader in drunk driving deaths, with a total of 1,337 just in 2013. MADD states that “the legislature fails to take any steps to address this deadly problem.” The organization is aggressively advocating for stricter DUI laws, including ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers.
Every minute of every day, there is a crash in Texas. It’s not a problem — until it happens to you.