According to many different studies, Austin is one of the most desirable cities to live in. However, there is one aspect of Austin that is not desirable: a tragic record of distracted driving injuries. Based on one study, over 4,000 wrecks in Austin were caused by distracted driving. In Texas overall, one in five collisions involves a distracted driver.
Fortunately, we can eliminate distracted driving—but it won’t be easy.
Put the Phone Away!
Currently, Texas law limits the ability of many drivers to use a cell phone while driving. For example:
- All drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using wireless communication devices.
- A driver with a learner’s permit cannot use a cellphone behind the wheel for the first six months.
- A school bus operator must not use a cellphone while driving the vehicle with children.
- No driver can use a mobile device in a school zone.
However, Texas has not yet passed a texting ban that applies to all drivers at all times. Fortunately, the city of Austin does enforce a ban on mobile devices and can fine you $500 if you violate the law.
If you are addicted to texting or talking while driving, remember to put your phone in a place where you cannot reach it. Think the trunk of your car (and not the glove compartment box). Also remember to pull over if you need to make a call or to check messages. Doing so will save you money—and possibly your life!
Don’t Eat and Drive
Eating and drinking are terrible distractions. According to one study, consuming food or beverages contributed to 80% of all car accidents and about 65% of all near misses.
It is easy to see why. When you eat or drink, you must use at least one hand and sometimes two. Removing a hand from the wheel makes it much harder to take quick, defensive action. Also, it is easy to spill food or beverages while driving, and your attention will naturally focus on the spill. If a hot liquid is burning you, it can be that much harder to stay focused on the road.
Properly Restrain Children and Pets
Texas already requires that you put children in a safety seat and for good reason. The seat not only protects your child in the event of a collision, but it also restrains your child from surprising you by lunging into the front of the car.
You should also restrain pets. If you have a jumpy dog, then it might surprise you by nosing its way into your space, leading to an accident. Choose a restraint method based on the size of your dog. You can put a small dog in a carrier, but you have other options with a larger pet—a dog seatbelt, barriers, or crates.
Lead by Example
Young drivers are more likely to follow your actions, not your words. If your children see you texting and driving, they will pick up that it is safe to do so. Remember to always drive in a safe manner and ask other people to drive safely if you see them attempting to multitask while driving.
At DC Law, we are committed to our community’s safety. In the event a distracted driver has injured you, please contact us at 512-220-1800. We offer injured motorists a free, no obligation consultation.