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Distracted driving a real danger in Texas

Distracted driving is a leading cause of injury and death on Texas roads and highways. Nationwide, almost 500,000 people are injured every year in accidents caused by distracted drivers.

A driver needs to devote their full attention to the task of driving safely. There are three basic types of distraction that affect your ability to drive safely: cognitive (taking your mind off the task of driving); visual (taking your eyes off the road); and manual (taking your hands off the steering wheel).

Texting and driving is by far the most dangerous distraction because it involves cognitive, visual and manual distraction all at the same time. Sending or receiving even a short text takes your mind, eyes and hands off the task of driving for at least five seconds. In that time, the vehicle can travel the length of a football field with the driver essentially blind.

Many people believe that using a hands-free cell phone reduces the danger of distracted driving. Research has shown, however, that a hands-free device does not remove the cognitive distraction of the phone conversation itself.

Young drivers are most at risk for distracted driving accidents. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, drivers under the age of 20 are involved in 16% of all distracted driving crashes.

Almost all states have some laws restricting cell phone use and texting while driving. Texting is banned for all drivers in 44 states plus the District of Columbia.

Texas has banned all cell phone use only for bus drivers and novice drivers. These bans apply to both hands-free and handheld phones. All drivers in Texas are prohibited from using handheld phones or texting in school zones.

If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation. An experienced Texas personal injury lawyer can evaluate your case and help you understand your options.

Source: Distraction.gov, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed Aug. 26, 2014

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