Texas’ Hands-Free Law: What To Know
In an effort to enhance road safety and reduce distractions caused by mobile devices, Texas implemented the Hands-Free Law in 2017. This law aims to prevent drivers from using handheld devices while operating a vehicle. If you are a Texas resident or plan to visit the state, here are the key aspects to know about this law.
The Basics of Texas’ Hands-Free Law
Under Texas’ Hands-Free Law, it is illegal for drivers to use handheld electronic devices to read, write, or send electronic messages while driving.
The following activities are explicitly prohibited under Texas’ Hands-Free Law:
- Texting: It is unlawful for drivers to read, write, or send text messages while driving.
- Emailing: The law also restricts drivers from composing or reading emails while operating a vehicle.
- Social Media: Using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat is strictly prohibited while driving.
Exceptions to the Law
Although Texas’ Hands-Free Law discourages the use of handheld devices while driving, there are certain exceptions to this rule:
- Emergency Situations: Drivers are allowed to use handheld devices to report emergencies, such as accidents, hazards, or criminal activity.
- Navigation: Using GPS or navigation systems is permitted as long as the device is mounted on the vehicle’s dashboard or windshield.
- Voice Commands: Drivers can use voice-activated features to operate their devices, ensuring they keep their hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road.
Penalties for Violations
Violating Texas’ Hands-Free Law can result in fines, ranging from $25 to $200 for the first offense and up to $200 to $500 for subsequent offenses. Additionally, repeat offenders may face increased insurance rates and potential license suspension.
Importance of Texas’ Hands-Free Law
Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents, injuries, and fatalities on the road. Therefore, the Hands-Free Law is a vital measure in creating a safer driving environment for yourself and others. Adhering to it promotes better driving habits, such as:
- Using Bluetooth: Drivers can utilize hands-free technology such as Bluetooth to make and receive calls without holding a phone.
- Pulling Over: If drivers need to use a handheld device or address an urgent matter, they can’t find a safe location to pull over before using the device.
- Setting Up Do Not Disturb Mode: Drivers can enable the Do Not Disturb mode on their phones to avoid notifications while driving.
- Planning Ahead: Setting up GPS or navigation system before starting a journey to minimize distractions while driving.
Why Texas Created the Hands-Free Law
Like many other states, Texas experienced an increase in accidents, injuries, and fatalities caused by distracted driving.
Advocacy groups, law enforcement agencies, and concerned citizens played a crucial role in pushing for legislation to combat distracted driving. These groups highlighted the dangers of cell phone use while driving and called for stricter regulations to discourage distracted behavior behind the wheel. Texas looked to other states that had successfully implemented similar hands-free laws and observed the positive impact on road safety. Drawing from these experiences and best practices, Texas lawmakers recognized the need for comprehensive legislation to address this issue.
If you have been the victim of a distracted driving accident, speak to a trusted Waco car accident attorney today. These attorneys can guide you on the best practices on what to do if you have gone through this life-changing event.