Just How Dangerous is Driving Distracted in Texas?
Distracted driving is on the rise in Texas, and law enforcement officials are cracking down with new regulations to curb the crash rates.
In this post, we’ll detail statistics on distracted driving and tell you about the new required course for Texas drivers. We’ll also let you know what you can do to hold someone liable for your injuries in a Texas distracted driving accident.
What Exactly Does Distracted Driving Entail?
Distracted driving covers a wide variety of activities people do while driving that divert their attention from their main job of driving. Distracted driving is a hazard to the driver, passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers. Examples of distracted driving are many and varied and include:
- Posting on social media
- Checking email
- Making phone calls
- Applying cosmetics
- Combing or styling hair
- Talking with passengers
- Programming or adjusting the vehicle’s audio or GPS system
- Reaching for an object while driving
Engaging in any of these activities while driving can pose a serious threat for a crash.
Statistics on Distracted Driving
Almost one in five car accidents in Texas are caused by distracted drivers.
Crashes involving distracted driving numbered 109,658 in 2016, a three percent rise over the previous year. Worse, these crashes resulted in over 3,000 injuries and 455 deaths in Texas.
Across the nation in 2015, over 391,000 people were injured, and 3,477 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers.
Drivers between the ages of 16 and 34 are most likely to be involved in distracted driving accidents.
Female drivers who use a mobile phone while driving experience a higher fatal crash rate than male drivers.
Nationally, there are 660,000 drivers who use electronic devices while driving every day.
If you take five seconds to read or send a text while traveling at 55 mph, that’s like closing your eyes while traveling the length of a football field.
It’s a huge problem, and lawmakers in the state are taking notice. As of Sept. 1, 2017, new drivers ages 18 and up are required to complete a free, hour-long distracted driving course before they are allowed to take the driving skills exam. A six-hour driver’s education course will also be required for drivers ages 18 to 24.
Proving Negligence in a Distracted Driving Accident
If you are injured in a distracted driving accident, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical expenses and other losses if your attorney can prove that the other driver was negligent.
Drivers are required by law to exercise care that minimizes the risk of damage to other drivers. If a driver was distracted and caused an accident which resulted in your injury, you may be eligible to receive compensation.
The following five elements of negligence must be proven for you to receive compensation in a personal injury lawsuit:
The distracted driver owed a duty of care to you. For example, the other driver owed you a duty not to be distracted by their cell phone while driving.
Breach of Duty
The distracted driver breached the duty of care that was owed to you. In this example, the distracted driver did not watch the road while driving, but instead checked email on his phone.
Cause in Fact
The breach of duty caused injury to you. For example, you would not have been struck and injured by the distracted driver’s vehicle if he had been paying attention to the road instead of checking his email on his cell phone.
Your attorney can prove proximate cause by showing that the distracted driver knew that using his cell phone while driving posed the threat of an accident that could cause injury.
You are entitled to damages because your injuries are a direct result of the distracted driver’s breach of duty.
A skilled car accident attorney will know what it takes to prove all five of these elements in your personal injury claim.
Help from a Texas Personal Injury Attorney
One of the main things that keeps people from reaching out to an injury lawyer is the belief that they are responsible – at least in part – for their accident. It’s understandable why this might cause you to hesitate, but fight that feeling.
Texas law follows a comparative negligence rule. That means that your compensation will be awarded according to your percentage of fault in the accident. For example, if a distracted driver hits you, but you were speeding, the court may determine that you are 20 percent at fault for the accident. If the total damages are determined to be $100,000, you would still receive up to $80,000 under the comparative negligence rule.
Moreover, often it is difficult for someone involved to tell who was really at fault. Our memories are faulty, and many people default to blaming themselves.
A skilled attorney pays attention only to what can be proven and the evidence that is available. For example, using the situation above, you might have believed yourself responsible because you were speeding. What you didn’t know, however, was that the other driver was texting. If they had been paying attention, the accident never would have happened.
Bottom line? If you have been injured in a distracted driving accident, contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible. You shouldn’t pay for your medical expenses if someone else is responsible. Call today for a free case review.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor. Now, he uses that knowledge to anticipate opposing counsel’s arguments and protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.