New laws to protect Texans against negligent drivers now in effect

There are a number of dangers that can threaten even the most careful or experienced drivers in Bell County, Texas. Fortunately, new laws that limit dangerous driving behaviors or punish drivers for acting irresponsibly after causing car accidents went into effect on Sept. 1. These new laws won't stop every instance of dangerous or negligent driving, but they should still help Texas drivers feel better protected on the road.

Hit-and-run penalties increase

According to Dallas News, a website affiliated with The Dallas Morning News, the penalty for fleeing the scene of a serious accident has increased significantly. Hit-and-run drivers may now face between 2 and 20 years in prison and a fine of as much as $20,000.

The Dallas News article reports that authorities were finding a pattern of drivers involved in deadly car accidents fleeing the scene. Intoxicated drivers in particular were likely to flee, as the penalty for intoxicated manslaughter was greater than the penalty for leaving the scene. Now, the penalties are equivalent, so that drivers are accountable for all of their actions.

Of course, this change will not prevent accidents from occurring in the first place. However, it will help increase the likelihood that victims who sustain serious injuries get justice and that dangerous drivers are appropriately punished.

Another new change in Texas law seeks to limit distracted driving. Although adult drivers are still permitted to use electronic devices while driving, the use of hand-held cell phones has been banned in a setting where it can be especially dangerous.

Phone use banned on school property

Texans now face further limitations on when and where they can use cell phones while driving. Last year, according to the government website Distraction.gov, Texas had the following laws in effect, with violations being classified as a primary offense:

  • Novice drivers are banned from texting.
  • Novice drivers are not permitted to use handheld or hands-free cell phones.
  • Bus drivers are not allowed to text.
  • Bus drivers may not use hands-free or handheld phones.

Texas also had banned the use of handheld cell phones in active school zones. Now, according to Dallas News, all school property falls under the ban. Drivers may still use handheld devices while they are parked and hands-free devices the rest of the time, but handheld phones cannot be used during any driving on school property. The maximum fine for an offense is $200.

Limiting the way that drivers can use cell phones sends an important message about the danger posed by distracted driving. Banning handheld phone use in a school zone, where driving is erratic and pedestrians can be inattentive, is an especially important step towards preventing accidents and injuries.

Both of these new laws should help deter distracted and otherwise negligent drivers from irresponsible driving behaviors. Unfortunately, these changes will not prevent all motor vehicle accidents, so it is important for people in Texas to drive vigilantly, with their full focus on the road.

If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of another driver's reckless actions, you should meet with an attorney to discuss potential compensation options.