Texting while driving in Texas is illegal. The law banning texting while driving went into effect on September 1, 2017. First-time offenders face a fine of $99.00. A subsequent ticket carries a fine of $200.00.
Laws banning texting while driving serve a good purpose. But they may not be effective – especially when it comes to teen drivers.
A survey from AAA’s Traffic Safety Culture Index found that among 16, 17, and 18-year olds, texting while driving bans do little to affect the behavior of teenage drivers. The data shows that teenagers in states that outlaw texting while driving still engage in the practice in roughly the same percentage as teenagers in states that do not ban texting while driving.
Conversely, a universal ban on handheld cellphone use while driving had a greater impact on teen drivers. In states with universal bans, teens engage in 55 percent fewer cellphone conversations while driving.
So what can be done to address the texting problem among teen drivers?
- Model safe behavior: If you are the parent, it is critical that you model safe driving behavior. Don’t talk on your phone, text while driving or engage in other distracted driving behavior. If you do it, your child will think it is okay.
- Keep the phone out of reach: Encourage your teen driver to store his or her phone in the glove compartment, trunk – or far out of reach while driving. Having the phone within sight and reach will make it less tempting to look at the phone when receiving a text message, call or other notification.
- Pull over to check phone: There really is no safe way to use a phone while driving. Encourage your child to pull off the road into a parking lot or other safe location if it becomes necessary to check his or her phone.
- Pledge not to text while driving: Many teens have pledged to stop texting while driving. Taking personal responsibility and pledging to not engage in distracted driving is a meaningful way for teens to adopt safe driving habits – and make an impact among their peers.
#TxtFreeTexas Scholarship Contest
The law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner is holding its 6th annual Text Free Texas Scholarship Contest. Local high school students who pledge not to text while driving can apply.