Texas legislators have made many efforts toward enacting bans on texting while driving. In 2011, they even managed to pass a bill that was subsequently vetoed by Governor Rick Perry. Last year, another bill died in the Senate after it had been passed by the House. As legislators who support the ban consider their next steps, some feel that the dangers of distracted driving are being minimized due to the accident reporting system in the state.
Many of those in favor of the ban are pointing toward the potential underreporting of accidents caused by distracted drivers. In Texas, police officers fill out a CR-3 whenever there is a motor vehicle accident. On this form, there is a list of 73 factors that may have led to the crash. One of these is "mobile/cellphone use," which the state uses when a driver is using a cellphone at the time of the accident.
Officers select as many of these factors as they believe relevant, and then send the completed forms to the Texas Department of Transportation. TxDot compiles the numbers, and then releases a report that lists which factors are responsible for the most crashes. Police do not check the mobile category unless the driver admits to using a phone or texting when the accident occurred.
In 2012, over 3,200 accidents were attributed to the mobile/cellphone use category, which included 35 fatalities, according to TxDot statistics. This could be substantially lower than the actual number of crashes, as other distracted driving categories were cited much more frequently.
Some feel that the texting ban may not ever pass until the state finds an accurate way of reporting these crashes. However, this could be very difficult, because even with more strict recording procedures it can be challenging to determine if cellphone use was happening at the time of the accident.
If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, it is important that you are aware of the steps you need to take at this time. You should gather as much information about the accident as possible, including any witnesses to the crash, as well as any police reports that have been made about the collision. If the other driver admits to being distracted, be sure that the officer records this information in the report.
Speak to an experienced personal injury attorney about recovering compensation to help you deal with your medical expenses and damages connected to the crash. An attorney can help you review any offers that you receive from insurance companies, and make a decision that is in your best interests. You should not have any negotiations with an insurance company unless your attorney is present.