Texas implemented a state no-text law for drivers in September 2017. While many counties already had cell phone bans, this new law bans reading and writing text communications across the state.
For some, it is an adjustment to wait to text or use hands-free devices, which is why we’re providing some tips.
Understanding the new law is not only important to avoid a fine and ticket, but also for safety.
Out of sight, out of mind
If you are a driver who feels the need to immediately respond to a message, it is time to kick the habit. The easiest way to avoid the temptation is to commit to safe driving and place your cell out of reach. Either put it in the glove box on silent, or put your phone on airplane mode so you can’t receive messages. Removing the temptation from your immediate reach will encourage you to wait until later to check your phone.
Mount your phone, but don’t touch it when moving
Though it’d be ideal to turn your phone off or put it out of sight, some people use their phones for navigation or screening calls. For this, we recommend a magnetic dash mount for your phone, placed in a spot that’s close to your line of vision. This way, even if you need to look at your phone for navigation, you aren’t taking your eyes far off the road.
Your message alerts will still pop up if you’re using your phone or navigation features, however. Some phones have the option to turn off alerts for specific apps. If you’re most tempted by your messaging app, turn off the alerts when you’re about to drive.
Know the law
City ordinances that were in effect prior to the state law are still enforced, including hands-free ordinances. Invest in a Bluetooth device if your car is not equipped with this feature. This will allow you to talk and also send messages through a voice-to-text app or feature on your phone.
With the no-text law, drivers can still make and receive phone calls, however, if you are making a call while driving it must be hands-free. Use a voice-activated feature on your phone to dial the number for you.
The no-text law does not prevent you from texting or reading while stopped, but once the car is in motion you must put the cell phone down. If an officer sees a driver in motion with their head looking down, or the car not maintaining a lane, the officer can pull the car over.
Texting and driving accidents can be prevented. Share these tips with other Texas drivers and make our roads safer.
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We live in a world with constant distractions, including while we are driving. Smartphones not only consume our attention while we work or at home, but also behind the wheel. Starting September 1, 2017 in Texas, it will be illegal to text and drive.
Campaigns are also in place by several organizations nationwide and major cell phone providers to send a constant reminder that using a phone while driving leads to injuries and fatalities.
Types of distractions
There is a long list of what can distract a driver, but there are only three types of distraction that interfere with concentration – cognitive, visual, and manual. An example of a manual distraction would be a driver removing hands from the steering wheel. Cognitive distractions take the driver’s mental focus elsewhere and visual takes the driver’s eyes off of the road.
Other actions that keep someone from focusing solely on driving include changing the radio station, looking at a map, talking on the phone or to others in the car, and eating. A recent survey showed that more than 60 percent say they have watched a driver apply makeup while driving, more than 50 percent witnessed someone reading, and more than 20 percent have seen a driver take a selfie while behind the wheel.
Although these tasks were not high scoring in the survey, people also witnessed drivers putting in contacts, flossing teeth, and actually putting on a costume.
A few seconds of a distraction behind the wheel can be deadly. Nationwide, there were 3,477 people who died in accidents in 2015 that were caused by a distracted driver. Since distractions can be anything and everything other than focusing on the road, it’s difficult to prevent.
How to drive safer
Most distractions are preventable. It starts with the driver making a conscious effort to focus only on driving.
Here are a few tips:
- Make seat, mirror, GPS, and radio adjustments when you get into the vehicle, before you drive.
- Put your phone on silent and out of reach. Taking the temptation away from your immediate access will force you to wait to check it until later.
- Use hands-free features on your phone if you must make a call.
- Finish grooming/dressing before getting into your car. Running late isn’t an excuse: It’s better to arrive late than not at all.
- Eat before you drive. If you must take food with you on the road, choose snacks that are easy to manage with one hand and easy to contain.
- Get your passengers to help you out. If they’re being distracting, ask them to quit the behavior causing the distraction. If you want to check something, change the radio station, navigation, etc. enlist the help of your passenger instead of doing it yourself.
- Find a noise background that helps you focus. For some people, this could be ambient music. It could be listening to an engaging podcast for others. It could be simulated background noise like rain or white noise. Figure out what audio distracts you and what engages your focus.