Over the last decade, the number of Americans killed while walking increased by 35%, and 2016 was the deadliest year for pedestrians since 1990. According to the "Pedestrian Danger Index," created by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition, Texas is ranked as the eighth most dangerous state for pedestrians. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there were 619 pedestrian fatalities in Texas during 2018.
Earlier this month, a California appeals court held that Apple Inc. was not liable for a fatal automobile accident involving a driver who was using the FaceTime application on his iPhone at the time of the crash. The accident occurred on December 24, 2014 on Interstate 35W in Denton County, Texas. Bethany and James Modisette along with their two daughters were stopped on the highway due to police activity when Garret Wilhelm crashed into the Modisette's vehicle at a high rate of speed. Wilhelm reportedly told police that he was using the FaceTime application on his Apple iPhone 6 Plus at the time of the collision. The entire Modisette family sustained injuries and one of the daughters, aged five, subsequently died in the hospital.
In 2017, Gabriela Torga, then 23 years old, was driving just after 5:00 in the morning when she veered from the left lane to the right shoulder. She overcorrected, slid counter-clockwise, hit the median and then slammed into a tree. She did not survive the crash. No one can definitively say whether Ms. Torga's cell phone was connected to the crash, but police say when the accident occurred, her phone was on and open to SnapChat and she was driving 55 mph in a 45 zone.
On Thursday, October 27, at approximately 10 p.m. the driver of a Jeep vehicle crashed into the back of a Houston Fire Department truck on the East Freeway in Houston. The accident happened while the Houston firefighters were clearing a minor crash from the road.
Last week, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced a new driving course to educate drivers on the dangers of distracted driving. Beginning on September 1, 2017, all skills examination applicants ages 18 and older must complete a free, one-hour "Impact Texas Young Drivers" (ITYD) course and obtain proof of course completion prior to taking the driving skills examination. In addition, drivers ages 18 to 24 will also be required to complete a six-hour adult driver education course prior to the skills examination. ITYD is the second course in the "Impact Texas Driver" program, which was developed in 2015 by the DPS with the aim of saving lives through awareness and education related to distracted driving. The first course, Impact Texas Teen Drivers, is a two-hour course that went into effect two years ago for drivers ages 15 to 17. In addition to the new courses, drivers are still required to complete the distracted driving module taught in the 32-hour teen driver education class along with six hours of adult driver education. The new ITYD course requirements are slated to go into effect the same day as the state-wide ban against texting and driving. The DPS also announced that a third course, "Impact Texas Adult Drivers" for drivers 25 and older, will be implemented in 2018. In the meantime, drivers in that age group will still be required to take the ITYD course to obtain a license.
It's 6:00 pm and you're driving your usual route home from work, when a familiar sound is heard indicating that you've received a text message. Should you check it?
Victims and the families of victims injured or killed in distracted driving wrecks met with state lawmakers in Austin on Thursday to support legislation banning texting and driving in Texas. The legislation-House Bill 62 and Senate Bill 31-mark the fifth time bills have been filed to ban using a phone while driving in Texas.
A California man has instituted a class action lawsuit against Apple for failing to implement an iPhone safety feature that would prevent people from texting while driving. The complaint was filed by Julio Ceja, a California resident who says that he was stopped at a traffic light when he was rear-ended by a distracted driver. Ceja claims that, immediately prior to the collision, he looked in his rearview mirror and saw the other driver using her phone instead of paying attention to the road in front of her.
The dangers of distracted driving are well-known and well-documented. According to www.cdc.gov, each day in the United States, over 8 people are killed and 1,161 are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. While distractions can come in many forms, cell phones are the top distraction.