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PROPERTY & CASUALTY
JUN 15, 2017
Texas to Ban Texting While Driving
As of September 1, 2017, Texas will become the 47
state to ban texting while driving. Currently, Montana and Arizona are two remaining states that allow texting behind the wheel, and Missouri only bans it for drivers under the age of 21.
On Tuesday, June 6
, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the texting ban into law. The governor stated he’s planning on holding a special session in July to add an amendment to ensure no local law can override the upcoming statewide ban. If a violator is found texting while driving after the law goes into effect, they can be fined from $25 to $99, however penalties could increase to $200 for repeat offenders.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2016, 455 people were killed and over 3,000 were seriously injured in crashes stemming from distracted driving. Nationwide that number jumps to 3,477 people killed and 391,000 injured in 2015 as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Distracted Driving Laws in 2017
Texas is one of 11 states that have enacted new distracted driving laws in 2017 so far. Seven states passed legislation to strengthen their existing distracted driving laws and Iowa passed a law to make texting while driving a primary offense. Washington and Arkansas took measures to expand the definition of distracted driving within their current laws.
With miles driven at an all-time high, it is crucial for fleet drivers to be familiar with distracted driving laws, as they are likely crossing state lines on a regular basis. As of now, distracted driving laws vary quite a bit from state to state, so it is important to stay informed.
Keep Employees Safe Behind the Wheel
The National Safety Council (NSC) has a few simple tips to help reduce distracted driving:
Either turn off your cellphone when you get in your car or put it in your trunk to avoid temptation.
If you’re frequently on the road, plan your route to include time to stop in parking lots or rest areas to make and return calls or texts.
If you must make or take an emergency call, pull off the road at a safe place to do so.
If you have a passenger, let him/her handle your texts and calls.
The NSC also has a
Free Cell Phone Policy Kit
to get employers started and it includes everything from white papers and posters to an activity guide and sample policy.
You can also check out
Amerisure’s Enhancing Fleet Safety tip sheet on reducing distracted driving
at your company.