A new law that went into effect January 1, 2015, is expected to provide added protection for motorists in the San Antonio area. The hands-free law enacted by the city will prohibit the use of handheld mobile devices behind the wheel. Drivers can still communicate by using wired or Bluetooth headsets or by using speakerphone capabilities; however, the San Antonio regulation bans the handheld use of cell phones, tablets and other tech devices even when stopped at traffic lights or in heavy traffic. San Antonio has banned texting while driving since 2010 and has cited more than 4,000 drivers since that time for violations of this regulation. Houston’s mayor recently proposed a ban on texting while driving; lack of support among the public and the police force, however, doomed this measure. For those who have sustained injuries as the result of a distracted driver, working with a Houston auto accidents attorney can help in obtaining fair compensation for medical expenses and other losses.
Fines for Non-Compliance
San Antonio police are providing a 30-day grace period during which time they will be stopping drivers for violations but will not issue tickets or citations. After the grace period ends, however, drivers will face a $200 fine for each instance of driving while using smartphones and other handheld devices on the road. Prohibited activities include texting, playing games, making calls, browsing the Internet and sending emails. Drivers can still receive calls by using wireless Bluetooth earpieces or other hands-free answering methods.
Distracted Driving a Nationwide Problem
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) collects statistics on accidents related to distracted driving. Some key facts compiled by the NHTSA include the following:
- Roughly 660,000 American drivers are using cell phones to talk, text or perform other activities at any given time during the daylight hours.
- Accident statistics indicate that distracted driving was a contributing factor in 10 percent of all fatality accidents involving drivers under 20 years of age.
- Approximately 421,000 people suffered injuries and 3,360 lost their lives in accidents related to distracted driving in 2012 alone.
Texas law bans the use of cellular devices by drivers under the age of 18 and by bus drivers and new drivers. Additionally, the use of cell phones in school zones is prohibited. The San Antonio law goes much further in its restrictions on the use of these devices behind the wheel and is expected to reduce the number of accidents attributable to distracted driving throughout the metropolitan area.
Protecting Drivers on the Road
These regulations are intended to help drivers stay safer on Texas roads. Across the U.S., 44 states have enacted laws prohibiting the practice of texting while driving and 12 states prohibit drivers from using cell phones altogether. Statistics show that drivers are four times more likely to be involved in an accident when using cell phones. Victims of these traffic accidents often suffer serious injuries that may take years of recovery time; others may lose their lives due to the use of cell phones behind the wheel. An experienced Houston auto accident compensation attorney can offer real help for victims and their families in managing medical expenses and obtaining a fair settlement for their injuries and losses. By working with a lawyer who specializes in personal injury and wrongful death cases, these individuals can ensure that drivers are held accountable for their negligence and can bring greater pressure to bear on insurance companies to push for stronger restrictions on the use of cell phones and mobile devices behind the wheel.
Retaining the services of a Houston auto accident compensation lawyer is a good first step for families affected by a distracted driving accident. By working with these dedicated legal professionals, victims can achieve fair compensation for injuries caused by the negligence or distraction of drivers on Texas roads.