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Things That Constitute “Distracted Driving” in Texas

By Dallas Personal Injury Attorney on March 30, 2023

Distracted driving is engaging in any activity that diverts the driver’s attention away from driving. It is a dangerous behavior that claimed 3,142 lives in the U.S. in 2020, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). For personal injury cases, it is important to understand the different types of distracted driving.

What Are the Different Types of Distracted Driving in Texas?

Anything that takes attention away from driving can be considered a distraction, from drinking a cup of coffee to dealing with a child passenger to reading a text message. Types of distracted driving in Texas include the following:

  • Visual distractions: These are actions taking your eyes off the road, such as reading a text, looking at a billboard, reading a map, or scrolling social media on your phone. If your eyes are not on the road in front of you, you could miss seeing an obstacle in the road or a pedestrian in a crosswalk, or you may not realize that traffic has stopped in front of you until it is too late.
  • Manual distractions: Anything that takes your hands off the wheel for even a moment is a manual distraction. Examples include eating, drinking, smoking, adjusting the radio, or sending a text message. Texting is one of the most dangerous forms of distraction because it is visual and cognitive as well as manual.
  • Cognitive distractions: It is essential to remain alert and aware of your surroundings while operating a 4,000-pound motor vehicle. Any activity that takes attention away from driving is a cognitive distraction. For example, daydreaming, arguing with a passenger, or dealing with children in the back seat are all forms of cognitive distraction that can lead to a crash.
  • Auditory distractions: Sounds can be as distracting as sights. Common auditory driver distractions include listening to music, talking on the phone, and listening to navigation instructions.

What Makes Multitasking While Driving So Dangerous?

The definition of multitasking is performing more than one task at the same time. When the task is driving, it should be the only thing the driver is doing. Studies have shown that multitasking makes us less efficient and more prone to error, as stated by the Cleveland Clinic. Multitasking is not actually possible for most people in most situations. Humans are wired to be “mono-taskers” – meaning we can only focus on one task at a time. When we constantly switch gears back and forth between tasks, we are more likely to make mistakes, particularly when a task is complex, such as operating a motor vehicle.

What Are the Legal Consequences of Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is not only dangerous but also has legal consequences in Texas. Along with 47 other states, Texas has explicitly banned texting and driving or sending or receiving any electronic messages. Texting and driving is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $200. It can also mean a criminal conviction on your record. If you were texting and driving and caused serious injury or death to another person because of it, you could face a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $4,000. If charged with vehicular manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, you could face an even longer sentence and steeper fines.

Driver distraction can occur in many forms, all of which should be avoided to keep the roads safer for everyone. If you have been injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver, your best chance of recovering full compensation is to have an experienced Dallas car accident attorney handling your case. Contact The Lenahan Law Firm at (214) 295-1008.

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