By Robyn McAllister
While cruising on North Texas highways, drivers may see several billboards warning about the dangers of texting and driving. On June 6, 2017, Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 62, which banned Texas motorists from texting and driving. However, no citations have been issued at Brookhaven College since the bill went into effect, Dallas County Community College District Cmdr. Mark Lopez, said in an email to The Courier.
“The law is intended to require drivers to pay attention to their driving and the road ahead of them,” Lopez said. “Driving a vehicle and paying attention to your text can become a very dangerous situation.”
Lopez said all traffic laws will be upheld to prevent texting and driving on campus.
According to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 341 tickets and 2,061 warnings were issued statewide between Sept. 1, 2017 and Feb. 28.
The Texas Department of Transportation states that a misdemeanor will be issued for first time offenders, ranging from $25-99. Repeat offenders will receive a $200 fine.
“A lot of people like to say texting and driving is bad, but still do it,” Kayla McDaniel, a student, said. “It’s a serious problem, and there should be stricter laws enforced.”
There are at least nine people killed every day due to texting and driving, according to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
Out of the 25 percent of motor vehicle crashes that occur, teens and young adults are the largest group affected, according to teensafe.com.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 1 out of 5 accidents that occur involve distracted driving.
If texting and driving are the cause of an accident resulting in death or harm, the violator will be charged with a class A misdemeanor which can result in a one-year jail sentence and a fine up to $4000.
Sara Perez, an Early College High School student, who drives, said she has been in a texting and driving-related accident, but did not receive a citation for it.
“I thought I was being cool, but didn’t realize not only did I put myself at risk but others as well,” Perez said.
“I suggest to have your priorities straight between answering your friend or the life of yourself and others,” Perez said.
Teen drivers make up the highest fatality rate caused by distracted driving compared to other age groups, according to teensafe.com.
Lopez said: “If you can’t seem to stop the habit, I would suggest that the phone be turned off while driving, or if you have to place it in your trunk. Out of sight out of mind.”
TX DOT recommends drivers keep focused on the road, with phones out of reach on “Do Not Disturb mode while driving. Apple and Android have also taken steps to ensure motorists from using their phones while driving. IOS11’s “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode can be set to turn on automatically based on detected motion indicating a user is driving. Additionally, Drive Mode, an Android based application, can read texts aloud and creates an interference with smartphones is less distracting, according to consumerreports.org.