What Are Texas Cell Phone Laws?
Smartphones are integral to motorists’ lives in Texas, but using your phone while driving can have devastating effects. Getting directions, listening to music, making phone calls, or sending messages while driving takes a driver’s attention off the road ahead.
San Antonio personal injury lawyers advise drivers to understand the cell phone law in Texas. Doing so can help keep them safe and prevent them from facing charges or earning a ticket. Here’s everything drivers need to know about using their cell phones while driving.
Is It Illegal to Text and Drive?
Generally, texting or receiving a text message while driving in Texas is illegal. The only exception is if the phone is set up as a hands-free device. While there’s no blanket ban on using a handheld cell phone, the safest bet would be to avoid using handheld devices while driving. San Antonio auto accident lawyers explain that, unless a driver is reporting an emergency:
- They may not send or receive a text behind the wheel of a moving vehicle
- They may not use your cell phone or a handheld device while driving in school zones
- A driver with a learner’s permit may not use a cell phone or a hands-free device for the first six months of driving
- Drivers under 18 may not use any handheld devices while driving
- School drivers are prohibited from using cell phones at all while driving with children riding in the bus
Despite these laws, auto accidents still happen due to distracted driving, as drivers text while driving. That’s why Texas has adopted a strict hands-free law to discourage the use of cell phones to reduce the risk of distracted driving.
Implementation of Hands-Free Laws in Texas
In 2017, Texas lawmakers officially banned the use of handheld devices while driving. The only legal way to operate the devices is by using hands-free technology such as dedicated voice commands, special apps, or Bluetooth.
Under this law, there are some exceptions and other restrictions worth noting:
- Using the phone to call 911 for an emergency is not a violation of distracted driving laws.
- Drivers can still use their smartphones to listen to music or to get GPS directions, but it’s safer to mount them on the dashboard than hold them in their hands.
If you got into an accident with a driver who was using their phone while driving in Texas, contact skilled auto accident attorneys in San Antonio. They can evaluate your case and advise you on your legal options.
Can a Driver Text at a Red Light in Texas?
Sending a text message on a phone while sitting at a red light is illegal in Texas. When stopped at a light, it is assumed that the driver is still operating a vehicle under Texas law. Texting while driving is a dangerous form of distraction in multiple ways:
- It takes the eyes off the road to look at the phone screen
- It takes the hands off the steering wheel to text the message
- It takes the mind off the task of driving, tampering with the ability to make the proper judgment in the face of danger
It’s advisable to refrain from answering or responding to the phone when it buzzes when stopped at a red light. Drivers should consider putting their phones in the trunk or back seat out of reach so that they’re not tempted to look at them while driving.
What Are the Dangers of Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that takes attention off the road or the hands off the steering wheel. Talking or texting on the phone is one form of distraction and could lead to devastating yet preventable car accidents. Young drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 are more likely to be distracted while driving than drivers aged 20 and over.
Cell phones affect how the mind processes information, significantly suppressing visual processing and attention. When traveling at highway speeds, a driver only has a few seconds to recognize and react to traffic hazards to avoid a collision. When distracted, they may be slower to recognize and respond to dangers ahead.
That’s why it’s crucial to be alert and focused on driving when behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. Drivers should pull off the road and stop before they send or receive a message or make or receive a phone call.
Liability and Texting While Driving in Texas
If a driver causes an accident due to distracted driving, such as texting while driving, they could be held liable by other parties who suffered damages or injuries due to their negligence. Every driver owes other road users a duty of care, and being distracted while driving fails to fulfill that duty.
If you were injured in an accident due to the actions of a driver who was texting while driving, you should consult skilled auto accident attorneys in San Antonio. They can investigate your case and help you pursue compensation for things such as:
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Lost wages and earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
Working with experienced personal injury lawyers in San Antonio is your best bet at pursuing the compensation you deserve. They understand the complex legal challenges around insurance claims, and they can fight aggressively to ensure you recover the maximum compensation possible.
An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Providing Legal Support After a Texting Accident
Texas laws prohibit the use of cell phones while driving unless the driver is using them for emergency purposes or getting GPS directions. If you were injured in an accident because the driver was distracted from using their phone, seek the help of skilled auto accident lawyers in San Antonio. They can work to help you determine liability and get compensation for your damages.
The legal team at the Law Offices of Matthew S. Norris provides legal representation for clients with personal injury cases. Whatever the reason for your accident, we can investigate your case, help you determine liability, and hold the negligent party liable. Then, we can file a claim on your behalf to pursue compensation. Call us at (210) 361-3393 for legal guidance in San Antonio.