Fatal car accidents have risen more than 20 percent in Texas over the last six years, according to one report. Why? The reasons are numerous, but texting while driving is a major factor.
Now Texas has decided to respond to the problem by making texting while driving illegal, although law enforcement and driver education efforts still face challenges.
After Sept. 1, Texas drivers who read, write or send text messages could be charged with a Class C misdemeanor and face monetary fines.
Enforcing the new law may be challenging. If a police officer sees a driver using a phone, the driver could still claim that the observed phone use was for a GPS app, an emergency call or something other than texting. Police officers are also very limited in their ability to take possession of or search a driver’s phone to determine whether a texting offense occurred.
Still, the fine for a first offense ranges from $25 to $99, with fines for subsequent offenses ranging from $100 to $200.
If a texting driver causes serious bodily injury or death, the driver could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
Options for Victims
Victims of distracted driving accidents will need more than an assurance that the distracted driver will have to pay a fine. Injuries resulting from an accident may result in heavy medical bills, lost income, reduced future earning capacity, and other damages.
The reality is that the traffic court and criminal justice systems do not provide for compensation in these matters, and accident victims need to be aware of their options for covering all of the costs resulting from the crash.
For more on building a strong car accident claim, please see our personal injury and car accident overview.