Distracted Driving: The Link Between Cell Phones and Car Accidents
According to the National Safety Council’s annual injury and fatality report, cell phone use causes 26% of car accidents in the United States. The report doesn’t just indicate texting and driving, either. Surprisingly, most accidents (21%) occur while a driver is talking on a handheld or hands free cell phone. Only 5% are because of texting and driving. Still, the numbers are unacceptable.
In 2014, there were 100,825 distracted driving car accidents in Texas alone. 3,214 of them resulted in injury, and 468 led to death. Texas sees an inordinately large number of distracted driving accidents in the nation. As a result, advocacy groups continue to try and pass more stringent laws. Many cities and towns in Texas have passed their own ordinances, as well.
At the moment, there are no statewide laws prohibiting the use of cell phones in Texas. The only laws governing cell phone use while driving are:
- Drivers with learner’s permits may not use a cell phone within the first six months.
- Drivers under 18 may not use wireless communication devices (like Bluetooth).
- School bus operators are never allowed to use a cell phone when children are present.
- No drivers are allowed to use handheld devices in school crossing zones.
While these laws limit the use of cell phones for young adults, they still allow for adults over 18 to use cell phones in many situations. Last year, Austin and San Antonio both passed citywide laws restricting the use of cell phones. Violation of these laws will result in fines up to $500.
Forty cities in Texas imposed a ban on texting while driving. Currently, it is not a statewide law; however, that is expected to change soon. A tentative ban was voted this past March, and Texas may soon join the other 45 states that have banned texting and driving.
Cell Phone Related Accident Liability in Houston, TX
So what happens if a car accident occurs because one of the drivers is using a cell phone? Like all personal injury cases, negligence is a deciding factor. All motorists are expected to drive in a reasonably careful manner. This means negligence may be indicated if a motorist is speeding, ran a red light, drove under the influence, or drove while on a cell phone.
If you suffered actual damage as a direct result of the accident, and the accident was caused as a direct result of the defendant’s negligence, you will be able to receive compensation for damages. Damages in a car accident usually include:
- Medical expenses. This covers any debts incurred as a result of the accident, including treatment and prescriptions. It may also include ongoing medical treatment.
- Lost wages. Temporary and permanent lost wages due to the accident can be claimed. This can be due to treatment after the injury or permanent loss of the ability to work.
- Pain and suffering. Pain and mental suffering as a result of the accident can be compensated. This is calculated using a formula.
- Property damage. Damage to vehicles and other property can be claimed.
- Loss of consortium or wrongful death claims. These are pursued in cases of extreme injury or death.
Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer in Houston, TX
In Texas, there are no official statewide bans on driving while on a cell phone, except for the regulations mentioned previously. That means it may be more difficult to prove negligence in certain situations. Only an experienced personal injury attorney will provide effective representation in a cell phone related car accident.
Contact attorney Brian White for more information on Texas distracted driving laws and personal injury claims. Our firm has experience in many specialties of personal injury law in Houston, TX and the surrounding communities.