About everybody in the United States is aware that texting and operating a phone is a major driving risk. Distracted driving has in turn lead to over 3,166 deadly accidents in 2017 according to NHTSA. In the state of Texas, distracted drivers were responsible for over 95,000 car accidents in 2018.
Currently, distracted driving has been responsible to countless auto accidents and accidents that ended in fatalities. Yet, there are many people who may not understand what counts as a driving distraction or what is considered illegal “activity” when operating a motor vehicle.
In relations to new distracted driving laws, people often ask many questions about what is considered a distraction. These Questions include:
- Is eating and driving is illegal?
- Is my GPS a distraction?
- Is it ok to use phone when at a red light?
- How can you prove distracted driving?
Here are the answers to what most people ask about distracted driving. Keep in mind, these are a few answers you may want to know the next time you drive in Texas.
Is Eating and Driving Illegal?
Eating and driving is distracted driving, and it’s the most common distraction and safety risk most drivers commit. But, is it illegal?
In the state of Texas, it is. In fact, it could land you a ticket.
In most other states, if a highway patrolman saw you eating or drinking a beverage while driving, he would have no reason to pull you over. But in Texas, it’s against the law.
Still, this does not mean it’s ok to do if it’s no illegal in other states. It’s usually what follows this action that gets drivers pulled over or causes accidents. A distraction can increase the likelihood for a driver to commit a traffic violation or put other driver’s life in danger.
If you break it down, eating requires some attention and manual work. Eating behind the wheel hits the mark for all 3 ability impairments for drivers:
Visual Distraction: Anything that makes you take your eyes of the road.
Manual Distraction: Wheel in one hand and food/drink in the other
Cognitive Distraction: Any other task, even if it is as menial as eating, can impair cognitive abilities to some extent.
Is a Car GPS or Navigation a Distraction?
These days handsfree NAVS and audible GPS systems make it better to drive and get directions to wherever. But are they still a distraction? Referring back to the previous answer, they can be.
It all depends on the device. There are still many devices that require cognitive and visual attention. Unless they are handsfree, they can count as a manual distraction.
Is It Dangerous to Use Your Phone At a Red Light?
We all understand how dangerous it is to text and drive. But many drivers question if it’s ok to send a text or look at your phone when stopped at a light? If the car isn’t in motion, how much of a danger can that be?
In Texas, the recent texting and driving ban had resulted in drivers receiving a traffic violation ticket if they are caught texting at a stoplight. The danger of texting at a stoplight comes from the same types of mental and physical distractions when a car is in motion.
Drivers can potentially risk holding up other cars or accidentally mistaking the gas for the brake. You also risk being aware of your environment. What if you were looking down at your phone and another vehicle that lost control starts coming at you?
The only safe and legal time a driver can operate a phone is when the vehicle is legally parked or completely shut off.
How Can People Prove Distracted Driving?
If you were involved in an accident caused by a distraction here’s a way how law enforcement or prosecutors could prove distracted driving.
If a driver was suspected of causing an accident by texting and driving, the cell phone records can be used as evidence to prove that a driver was texting at the time the accident occurred.
But, without a court order, the cellphone company cannot legally release the data or texting records. A car accident attorney or prosecutor would be capable of retrieving these records to use as proof if the accident were to go to court.