It is no secret that texting while driving is hazardous and against the law. However, people continue to do it every day and cause accidents that drivers could have easily avoided. In Texas, it has been illegal to read, write, or text while driving since September 1, 2017. It was reported by The Dallas Morning News in 2018. There have been more than 380 citations in eight cities across the Dallas-Fort Worth area since the texting ban went into effect. Curious Texas followed up on these numbers to get an updated report.
The Texting and Driving Ban
Drivers with learner’s permits cannot use a cell phone during the first six months of driving, drivers under 18 cannot use handheld devices, and school bus drivers cannot use cell phones while driving if children are present. Across Texas, it is prohibited to use a cell phone in a school zone. For the first time, caught texting while driving, one could face a misdemeanor charge and a fine between $25 to $99. A repeat offender could be fined between $100 to $200. Of course, texting while driving can cause accidents in which the consequences are much more severe. A person who causes an accident because of texting while driving could pay up to a $4,000 fine and spend up to one year in jail.
The Texas Department of Transportation reported that in 2020, 368 people were killed in accidents involving distracted driving. This is a 3% decrease from the previous year. The Morning News obtained records from eight cities across the Dallas-Fort Worth area that issued citations for texting while driving since the ban.
In Arlington, Frisco, McKinney, and Richardson, less than 100 citations were issued in each city. According to the records, 72 of 90 citations issued in Frisco were done so in school zones. In McKinney, out of 21 citations that were issued, 11 were warnings. In the city of Dallas, 134 citations were issued for people that were texting while driving. Plano had a noticeably higher citation count than the other cities, with 180 citations issued since 2017. Out of these citations, 23 were given in 2017, 55 in 2018, 70 in 2019, 27 in 2020, and 5 so far in 2021.
Unsurprisingly, many of Plano’s citations were issued in school zones. Before the statewide texting ban, the city had its law against mobile cell phone usage in school zones. Traffic officers are much more vigilant in these zones, as stated by Plano police officer David Tilley. These areas are under higher surveillance because children may not be as careful as an adult. Drivers need to be hyper-aware in school zones to ensure no children or drivers get hurt.
It is believed that since the ban took effect, there hasn’t been much of a decrease in mobile cell phone usage while driving. According to Officer David Tilley, the only way to see a change take effect is through continued strict enforcement of the law. Luckily, in Plano, there hasn’t been a death related to texting while driving accident.
It is extremely important to be alert while driving, especially in school zones. The texting ban is an attempt to help curb distracted driving. Officer David Tilley hopes that the next time people get behind the wheel, they will take the time to consider if answering a text is worth the severe injury or death it could cause.
Being involved in a distracted driving accident can be traumatizing. Seeking help from a qualified personal injury attorney may help you and your loved ones recover from an unfortunate accident.