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Texas lawmakers pushed to consider distracted driving law

Texas is one of only four states in the country that does not have a law against texting while driving. Advocates for distracted driving legislation are pushing state lawmakers to pass a law that addresses this and other distracted driving practices.

Just how big of a problem is texting while driving in Texas? According to a recent report by a local NBC affiliate, texting while driving is a big problem. The report notes that there were over 100,000 distracted driving related crashes in Texas in 2015.

Although Texas does not have a state law in place, there are laws within municipalities throughout the state. One example is present in Austin, which makes it illegal to use a hand-held cellphone at all while driving. Violators can face steep penalties, including a fine of up to $500.

Even with a law in place, the City of Austin Municipal Court reports that violations are an issue. 547 drivers reportedly violated this law in January of 2016 and 591 in February. This is a striking number of violations for a thirty day period in one city alone.

Those in favor of distracted driving laws argue that having a law in place helps to deter drivers from using their phones while driving. If this argument were true, the numbers in Austin would be even higher without the ordinance in place.

Why isn't there a law? The state has considered distracted driving legislation in the past, but a proposal has yet to become law. Four previous proposals failed.

Those who oppose such laws state that the laws would infringe on the driver's privacy rights.

What about victims of distracted driving car crashes? Those who are injured in distracted driving and other car crashes may be eligible to receive monetary awards to help cover the costs associated with the accident.

Even if a state wide law is not passed banning distracted driving practices, all drivers are expected to operate their vehicles safely. A failure to do so can result in liability. As a result, victims can hold negligent drivers accountable for their actions through a personal injury suit.

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