Brian White | March 28, 2023 | Car Accidents
If you live in Houston, you know how chaotic the bustling city can get. With so many distractions affecting motorists and causing traffic accidents, it’s no surprise that Texas lawmakers passed legislation to encourage the hands-free use of phones and lower the risk of distracted driving crashes.
As a driver in Texas, it’s essential to understand hands-free laws to avoid fines and protect yourself and others on the road.
What Are Hands-Free Phone Laws?
Hands-free phone laws in Texas are designed to prevent motorists from using handheld electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle. This includes talking on a cell phone, texting, emailing, or browsing the internet.
Research into distracted driving accidents overwhelmingly shows that using handheld devices is directly linked to crashes and collisions. As such, many states have passed laws to help lower these fatal crashes by enforcing a strict ban on cell phones and other devices.
Texas officially passed hands-free cell phone laws in 2017 after a record-high year of injuries — in 2016, an estimated 109,658 crashes and 455 fatalities in Texas resulted from distracted driving.
If you need to use your phone while driving in Texas, you must use hands-free technology (such as a Bluetooth headset or speakerphone). With hands-free devices, drivers can keep both hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road while still being able to make phone calls or send messages.
Penalties for Violating Hands-Free Laws in Texas
Texas is serious when it comes to hands-free law violations. Depending on the circumstance, you may face fines of up to $200 for a first-time offense and up to $500 for repeat offenses. In addition to penalties, you may incur points on your driver’s license that can lead to higher insurance rates.
Furthermore, receiving four traffic violations in any 12-month period can result in a license suspension. And if you cause a car accident while using your phone, you may be liable for property damages, injuries, and even fatalities. Given the negative consequences, talking on your phone while driving simply isn’t worth it.
Are There Any Exceptions to Hands-Free Laws?
As with other traffic laws, there are a few exceptions to hands-free statutes in Texas. However, these exceptions are few, and they include:
- Calling 911 or other emergency services while driving
- Using a mounted navigation system to find directions
- Changing the music on a device using your car’s console
- If you are stopped at a red light
Under the law, police officers may pull you over anytime they see or suspect mobile device use while a driver is operating a vehicle.
Tips for Staying Safe While Driving in Texas
The best way to stay safe while driving in Texas is to avoid using your phone whenever you get behind the wheel.
If you need to use your phone, it’s vital to use hands-free settings at all times and engage in your duty of care to prevent accidents:
- Pull over to a safe location if you need to make or take a phone call
- Never text or use social media while driving
- Keep your phone out of reach to avoid temptation
- Plan your route to limit navigator use
- Stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times
According to research from the Center for Injury Research and Policy, hands-free laws in the United States save roughly 160 lives and prevent nearly 13,900 accidents annually.
Save Lives — Ditch the Phone
Hands-free phone laws in Texas keep motorists and pedestrians safe. As a driver in Texas, it’s essential to understand these laws and how they can impact you. By following hands-free phone laws and prioritizing safety while driving, you can help reduce the risk of distracted driving accidents and keep yourself and others safe on the road.
Contact the Houston Car Accident Lawyers at Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers For Help
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