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Texting and driving: Are Texan drivers guilty?

According to the data compiled by the Governors Highway Safety Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to highway safety issues, 14 states and the District of Columbia currently prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. In all of those jurisdictions, the laws are primary enforcement, which means that an officer may pull over a driver and issue a citation solely on that basis.

An even higher number of states prohibit texting while driving. The GHSA puts the number at 44, plus the District of Columbia. Of those states, 39 have primary enforcement laws against this form of distracted driving. 

Yet in Texas and across the country, many drivers may not strictly adhere to these distracted driving laws. Perhaps the rationalizations are even justified with safety considerations, like limiting hand-held cellphone use to red lights or when traffic is stop-and-go. Unfortunately, it can be hard to perfectly time cellphone use to such seeming "safe" moments. Texts or emails may take longer than a red light or a lull in traffic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nature of the distraction presented by cellphone use behind the wheel is particularly dangers because it takes drivers' eyes, hands and minds off the road and traffic pattern in front of them. According to another study, text messaging increases the risk of a motor vehicle accident by a factor of 23 times.

A personal injury attorney knows firsthand the types of serious injuries that can result from distracted driving. Each day, a distracted driver injures an estimated 1,150 people. In the context of a personal injury lawsuit, distracted driving data may help prove the other driver's negligence. However, a motor vehicle accident involves multiple evidentiary facets, including insurance claims. An attorney can help a crash victim navigate these requirements with greater ease. 

Source: The Huffington Post, "We Need to Consider Stronger Laws on Cellphone Use While Driving," Brad Stulberg, Oct. 27, 2014

Source: Governors Highway Safety Association, "Distracted Driving Laws," Nov. 2014

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