It's not written into the books yet, but it could be soon: A south Texas lawmaker has put Senate Bill No. 43 into play and if passed, the new law would require statewide mandatory hands-free driving. Taking the September 2017 texting while driving ban one step further, all cell phone use while driving would have to be done over speaker phone, voice-operated technology, push-to-talk or something similar. Drivers would only be allowed to use their hands to activate or deactivate hands-free devices.
Lawmakers have until May 27 to pass the new bill, which if enacted, would take effect September 1, 2019. Austin already has a hands-free law and local law enforcement officials say having a statewide ordinance would clear up any confusion for drivers traveling from one city to another.
Will a hands-free driving law work?
A report from the Insurance Council of Texas, which reviews data from the Texas Department of Transportation, noted a 4% drop in traffic deaths in 2018 as compared to the previous year. A council spokesperson attributed the decrease in fatalities to the 2017 texting law and the public awareness campaigns that supported it. Enforcement and fines likely contributed, as well.
Distracted driving, also known as the "new drunk driving," has been shown to be the equivalent of drinking four beers and makes drivers 23 times more likely to crash. So what can you do to get yourself and your phone-crazy teenagers ready for this new law?
Tips to get ready for a hands-free driving law.
Here are 7 tips for staying safe and practicing hands-free driving:
- Ideally, don't take or make calls while driving except in an emergency
- If you must talk while driving, make a commitment to be hands-free at all times
- Set a good example for your kids — no exceptions
- If you have to pick up your phone for any reason, pull over to a safe place first
- If your car isn't Bluetooth-enabled, there are many options at different price points, including professional installation and DIY projects
- Consider investing in wireless, bluetooth-enabled earbuds
- Limit your activity to audio calls only
- Don't engage in activities that take your eyes away from the road, such as FaceTime or YouTube
- Save the selfies for after you arrive — and have your kids read this article about the growing number of selfie accidents and deaths
- If anything distracts your attention while driving, don't hesitate to pull off the road to take care of it — nothing going on between point A and point B is worth someone's life
When your family needs emergency care from an accident or injury, one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.