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Hand-held Cell Phone Ban in Austin; New Law Could Mean Less Car Accidents

Talking While Driving

During the most recent Austin City Council session, the members voted to approve a ban on hand-held cellphone use. The ban extends to almost all forms of hand-held electronics, and will go into effect January 1, 2015.

We’ve seen evidence of how dangerous cell phones and other distractions can be while driving. Even the most cautious driver can be caught unawares by a sudden change in traffic while they are distracted.

The law expands upon a current ordinance that bans texting while driving. This law, said officials, was not expansive enough because it allowed for holding the phone to do other things such as place a call.

On our blog, we’ve discussed recent Austin initiatives to create safer streets—namely, a symposium addressing drunk driving and traffic issues that put pedestrians and fellow drivers in danger.

Banning hand-held devices, then, seems like a step forward for the city in acknowledging that it has some of the most dangerous streets in the country: the stretch of I-35 that intersects Austin is the most accident-prone section of this interstate.

In lieu of hand-held devices, drivers will be allowed to use hands-free electronics. The law applies to bicyclists as well as auto drivers. The hope is that there will be fewer auto accidents, truck accidents, and bicycle accidents—all of which can be caused by negligence behind the wheel.

While some Austinites are opposed to this ordinance because of the potential inconvenience it poses, most locals seem to be in favor of the safety regulation. It might not seem like an obvious threat to have a cell phone up to your ear, but one of the three main types of driver distractions is cognitive—when a driver stops focusing on the road. Dialing and holding a cell phone or other electronic device takes hands of the wheel and is mentally distracting.

If you have been in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, please reach out to the Loewy Law Firm at (512) 280 – 0800. We are skilled in obtaining justice and compensation for victims of auto accidents, and we will aggressively pursue all avenues of compensation for you.