Effective Sept. 1, 2017, it is illegal to use a cellphone to read, write or send text messages while driving in Texas. Although a number of cities in Texas had previously outlawed texting while driving, the new law includes a provision that supersedes local laws and applies the ban to the entire state.
The ban on texting and driving is meant to reduce instances of distracted driving. One in 5 crashes in Texas involves distracted drivers, according to the Department of Transportation.
Here are additional details about the texting ban that you can use to stay safe on the road and avoid fines:
Law enforcement personnel will look for signs that drivers are looking at their cellphones while driving. The most common signs are drivers who have their heads down, their hands off the wheel and vehicles that are swerving in their lanes.
Drivers who violate the texting ban will be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $99. Repeat offenders can be fined up to $200.
Drivers can continue to use their cellphones to listen to music or navigate to a destination, but they can still be pulled over if law enforcement personnel suspect they are texting.
Hands-free accessories and voice dictation services can be used to read, write and send text messages while driving. Although some cities in Texas have also banned these accessories and services, it’s unknown how the provision superseding local laws affects enforcement. Be sure to check your local laws regarding texting and driving.
The best way to avoid distractions while driving is to set up your navigation and music services before you drive and avoid looking at your cellphone until you arrive at your destination. You can also check to see if your cellphone or vehicle has safety features meant to protect drivers from becoming distracted, such as voice controls or a do not disturb mode.
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