Thursday, August 27, 2009

Austin City Council Approves Ban on Texting While Driving

This morning, the Austin City Council voted to approve a preliminary ban on typing and sending text messages while driving your car. Once the final legislation is written and put up for a vote in a few months, you no longer will be able to text your spouse that you are stuck in traffic or read that e-mail that you just did not get around to opening before you left the office. The legislators also approved a three-foot driving distance between other vehicles and users of the road. Together, these measures have the intention of putting the driver's focus back on the road and his surroundings. The question is, will these new restrictions make any difference?

Recent studies clearly have shown that texting while driving is a dangerous activity. The main proponent of the bill, Councilman Mike Martinez, shares that “You’re 20 times more likely to get into an accident texting while you’re driving.” Those quick messages you send with your Blackberry have proven to lead to more car crashes than talking on the phone or even driving while intoxicated. Not only are your eyes diverted from the road in front of you, but you also are removing your hands (or at least your thumbs!) from the steering wheel.

There were more than a dozen bills presented before the Texas state legislature this year concerning the use of cell phones while driving and most of them failed. A primary concern is how a ban on texting could ever be enforced. A police officer would either have to catch a driver texting, which is difficult when the phone is hiding on a driver's lap, or a witness would have to be presented who could offer a reliable account that texting had occurred. In the seventeen states in which texting while driving is already banned, many drivers continue the practice with the assumption that they will not get caught. In New York, a state in which a texting ban was enacted in 2001, the level of texting returned to pre-ban levels within a year, once drivers realized that enforcement was not taking place.

If you or someone you love has been injured by a driver who was texting and therefore distracted from the road, the personal injury attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help. We have offices in Austin, as well as Houston and San Antonio. Please contact us today and let us work with you to get the compensation you deserve.

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