Residents in San Antonio should be aware of how the city’s approach to distracted driving differs from that taken in much of the rest of Texas.
Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike face the ever-present risk of being hit by drivers who are distracted in some way. Perhaps one of the most common distractions for today's drivers in Texas is the cell phone. Cell phones have become one of the most used pieces of technology in society yet they are not without some controversy.
Distracted driving laws in Texas
While many states have enacted bans on the handheld use of cell phones while driving, Texas has not done so. According to the Texas Department of Transportation explains, handheld phone use is only illegal statewide in a few situations. These include the use of phones by teen drivers who are under 18 years of age. Not only are these drivers banned from handheld use, but they are banned from any use of a phone at all while driving.
Another element of the state's distracted driving law prevents the handheld use of a phone by anyone while in a school zone. While children are on a school bus, the driver may not use a phone.
Distracted driving laws in San Antonio
As a whole, Texas has not banned handheld phone use for drivers. That, however, has not stopped the city of San Antonio from taking such action. KSAT reports that a unanimous vote put such a law into effect for the city as of January 1, 2015. The only exceptions include 911 calls, calls made while vehicles are stopped in a parking position and calls made by people while on private property. Navigation via a cell phone is only allowed if the phone is actually attached to the vehicle.
The City of San Antonio adds that any violation of the law can result in the imposition of a $200 fine. It is not only making or receiving a call that is a violation of the law. Playing a game, viewing or taking pictures, and sending or reading texts are also illegal.
According to the San Antonio Current, while drivers can be forced to pay a fine for breaking the ordinance, there will be no impact on their insurance or their driving records.
Inconsistent approach statewide
It is not only San Antonio which has taken a harsher stance than the state on distracted driving. Roughly 40 cities have done the same thing in the past several years.
Increased awareness hitting college campuses
TWC News reports that college students this spring will be the targets of a new anti-distracted driving campaign. Messages will roll out to various campuses in an effort to highlight the dangers of texting and driving.
While groups around the state work to improve awareness and safety, people continue to suffer injuries due to the negligence of distracted drivers. Contacting an attorney is recommended for help seeking compensation.