Even a momentary distraction while driving can have devastating consequences, and texting behind the wheel is especially risky. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that it takes an average of 5 seconds to read or send a text; at 55 miles per hour, that is roughly equivalent to driving the length of a football field with eyes closed.
Despite increasing awareness of the risks, too often drivers underestimate the impact of onboard distractions and overestimate their ability to multitask safely.
1. Distracted driving remains a serious issue on Texas roads
Distracted driving continues to be one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents in Texas. According to the Department of Transportation, nearly one in five crashes on state roads involve driver inattention. In 2019 alone there were over 97,800 distraction-related collisions resulting in 2,500 severe injuries and 378 deaths.
2. State law prohibits texting and driving
On September 1, 2017, the state legislature officially banned texting while driving throughout Texas. This distracted driving law prohibits writing, reading or sending an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle.
Those who violate the law may face a first-time fine of up to $99 and fines of up to $200 for subsequent offenses. If texting behind the wheel leads to injury or death, the driver may face a fine of up to $4,000 and up to a year in jail.
3. Driver distraction takes many forms
Handheld devices are not the only cause of driver distraction. While it may not be explicitly illegal to drive while eating, grooming or engaging in other activities that take attention away from the road, doing so can easily lead to reckless mistakes with potentially fatal consequences.