A recent survey, conducted and published by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, confirmed one of the lawmakers’ worst fears regarding texting and driving statistics in the state. According to the poll (which analyzed the responses of 3,000 drivers in May 2013), a whopping 3 out of 4 speak on the phone while driving. Some 44 per cent of the respondents also admitted to texting and emailing while operating an automobile. The study includes other relevant statistics regarding distracted driving. Over the course of the 30 days before the survey, 19 percent of people checked Facebook or other sites at least once per day while driving, 16 percent drove without a seatbelt and 14 percent drove after having drank too much. In terms of demographic breakdown, the study did provide some surprises. While the relationship between education levels and risky behavior at the wheel is usually negative, the case of cell phone use (to education level) is the other way around. People with higher levels of education are more likely to text, email, or surf the web while driving. Statistically, these same people are more likely to cause texting and driving accidents.
Texas Laws on Texting While Driving
In 2012, 453 Texas residents were killed in accidents caused by distracted driving – that’s slightly less than 1/7 of all such deaths that occurred in the U.S. in 2012. The difference between Texas and most other states is that most of the others have already issued statewide bans on texting and driving. Texas is not one of them. 43 U.S. states have explicit texting and driving laws that target all drivers at all times. 12 of the aforementioned states do not allow cell phone use at all. Texas only enforces a state-level law against handheld phone usage in school areas. Additionally, Texas has banned cell phone use by all school bus drivers and drivers under the age of 18. In recent years, however, several municipalities in the state (including Arlington and Farmers Branch) issued an explicit ban against texting and driving.
The debate on whether or not Texas should ban texting and driving (or even all cell phone usage while behind the wheel) has been going on for several years now. Governor Rick Perry opposed a 2011 bill that would have banned texting while driving. In the most recent legislative session, a similar ban was approved by the House but didn’t receive enough support to pass the Senate. Interestingly enough, the same Texas A&M Transportation Institute poll revealed that 6 out of 10 Texans agree with a ‘don’t text and drive’ legal initiative. They are in favor of issuing a ban on texting and phone calls without hands-free devices or voice command.
There are three main types of distracted driving behaviors and they affect the drivers’ visual, manual and cognitive abilities respectively. What’s more, texting and driving has also been linked with alcohol consumption. This is especially prevalent in young, inexperienced drivers below the age of 20. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say that students who text while operating a vehicle are more likely to ride with a driver who has been drinking, as well as more likely to drink and drive. The CDC also warns that texting and driving might even be more dangerous than other distracted driving behaviors since it keeps the drivers’ eyes off the road for longer spans of time. To boot, there’s also a connection between texting and driving and car insurance. The link is simple: don’t text and drive since you risk both getting a ticket, as well as being involved in an accident. This, in turn, could increase your risk profile and the rate of your vehicle insurance premium.
So, there you have it. Now, we’d like to hear your opinion on the issue of texting and driving. You can continue the conversation on our Facebook page.