On Monday, the town of Chapell Hill in North Carolina became the first city in America to introduce a complete ban on cell phone use by drivers – including hands free cell phones. As a Dallas-Fort Worth personal injury lawyer, I applaud Chapell Hill’s city council members for making this brave decision, and I am sure that many other cities across America will be eagerly watching the positive impact this ban will have on public safety in the city once the new law goes into effect on June 1 this year.
Distracted driving is a major problem here in North Texas, and it is an issue which demands greater regulation in order to keep our roads safe. Although distracted drivers pose the greatest threat to themselves (a large proportion of distracted driving fatalities are single vehicle accidents), people who text from behind the wheel are also a very real danger to all other road users. Travelling at 55 miles per hour, a driver will travel the length of a football field in the amount of time it takes to read a standard text message. Within that distance there are any number of potential hazards they might miss: the car in front of them stopping, a traffic light turning red, a child running out into the road.
Unfortunately, despite the clear and obvious danger distracted drivers pose to all North Texas road users, Arlington remains the only city to have an outright ban on sending and receiving text messages while in the driving seat, and even that law still allows for people to have phone conversations while driving. I hope that the Chapell Hill law proves once and for all that bans of distracted driving can work and are for the greater good. Hopefully then other cities in DFW take notice and greater restrictions on cell phone use while driving will come into force.
Remember that even though using a cellphone while driving is not currently illegal in Texas (other than in school zones) it is still regarded as negligence on peace officers crash scene reports. If you or someone you love was injured in a multi-vehicle wreck caused by a distracted driver, it is important that you speak to a board certified personal injury lawyer regarding your case as you may be entitled to compensation.