Twenty years ago, no one was worried about texting and driving. There might have been the occasional phone call. However, for most Texans, phones still had limited capabilities, and overuse quickly got expensive.
Over the last two decades, a lot has changed in how you interact and rely on your cell phone. In addition to communication, you likely use your phone for banking, social media, navigation, fitness and many more applications.
The more people began to use their phones on the road, the more it became clear that distracted driving was a problem. Here’s what you should know about the rules in Texas and how they impact your usage on the road.
The rules in Texas
Where some states have created complex rules regarding cell phones, Texas has made it fairly straightforward. Here, the rules include:
- Not sending or receiving text messages while driving
- Not using handheld devices in school zones
- Drivers under 18 using any handheld device
- Drivers with a learner’s permit are prohibited from using cell phones for the first six months of driving
The Department of Transportation further encourages you to pull over entirely and stop your vehicle before talking or texting on your cell phone.
Are there exceptions?
Texas views a handful of situations as “affirmative defenses” for people charged with a cell phone-related offense, including:
- Using a hands-free device, like a speakerphone or a Bluetooth device
- Use GPS or a navigating system
- Reporting illegal activity
- Activating a function to play music
While these can seem like reasonable workarounds to the distracted driving laws, keep in mind, you still are mentally distracted by the conversation on your phone, even if it is not in your hand.
Driving while your eyes (or mind) are not on the road is dangerous. In addition to legal consequences, you are more likely to be involved in an accident when distracted by your cell phone.