Texas is the second biggest state in terms of geographical boundaries and second most populous state in the United States. Studies also showed that this state also had the highest rate of road accidents. The Department of Public Safety Accidents Bureau published the Motor Vehicle Traffic Accident Data for the year 2001, in which the statistics showed that there were a total of 324,000 reported crashes, which resulted in 3,739 deaths. Among these statistics, there were 1032 crashes with 8 fatalities that were reported as a direct result of drivers interacting with their mobile phones whether texting or calling. This figure showed an increase in total crashes of 44.1 % from the previous year where the number of crashes were 716 with 7 fatalities, the fatalities showing that there was an increase of 14.3% (Insurance Information Institute, 2008). These statistics showed that cell phone use while driving accounted for only a fraction of the total accidents, but the local authorities had a cause for alarm.
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Road Traffic Accidents in Texas as the result of Cell Phone Use
The local authorities stated that it was hard to compile the exact number of accidents that were the direct result of either texting or calling since many of the accident victims did not admit to either having used the phone or having distracted by the phone prior to the crash. However, on the investigation of victims’ phone records, it was showed that many accidents happened when he driver received a call or a text or when they attempted to make one out. In Harris County only, a total of 196 accidents that were blamed on cell phone use took place of which there was one death. San Antonio was also another notorious city where drivers were reckless behind the wheel as a result of distraction from cell phone usage. Reports by News 4 WOAI Trouble Shooters showed that in since the year 2005 up to 2011, there had been 17519 accidents with 167 deaths and a total of 7, 519 injuries, for which San Antonio accounted for the majority with 1,611 accidents (Utts & Heckard, 2011).
Cases if drivers running over pedestrians at zebra crossings were reported (Scheb, 2010). It showed that most of the drivers were texting while behind the wheel. Recent statistics shows that the number of vehicle accidents in Houston have been on the increase, especially accidents that are been attributed to truck drivers. It was noted that most of these truck accidents were caused by drivers who were texting or calling using their handsets. This resulted in the federal government placing restrictions and a ban on cell phone usage for texting while behind the wheel. Experts believed that putting a total ban on cell phone usage would go a significant way in reducing many accidents on Texas roads (Brooks & Church 2009).
With such grim statistics, it is imperative to pass laws and legislation that need to curb and put a stop to such preventable deaths. Majority of United States federal states have put in place bans and/restrictions on cell phone use whether hand free or hands held while driving. Though these laws are established by individual states, there is a notable similarity because they address the same issue and are fairly consistent in their application. For instance, five states have total bans on talking though the cell phone while driving. Fifteen states including the District of Columbia have placed a total ban whether hand-held or hands-free to school bus drivers while on the road and driving. Around seventeen states have placed total ban on cell phone use, whether hands-free or handheld by learner drivers or teenage drives in order to curb such incidences.
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The fruits of such regulations have been the enormous reduction in accidents resulting from distractions from mobile phone usage while driving. For example, in the year 2008, California enacted legislation in which use of cell phone while driving was prohibited. Studies prior to the ban had showed that there was a 4.4% likelihood of an accident resulting from cell phone usage which meant that if Californian drivers complied with the law, there would be a significant reduction in road traffic accidents. The result of that legislation is that in the following year, accidents that had from distractions caused by mobile phone usage while driving reduced significantly (Kiesbye, 2011).
There are legislators who introduced bills, four in number, for the 2011 Texas legislative session. Senate Bill 46, introduced by Senator Judith Zaffarini would bar drivers from using wireless devices from texting, reading or emailing while driving unless the vehicle is brought to a stop. Senator Carlos Uresti proposed the Senate Bill 119; House Representative Tom Craddick proposed House Bill 243 and House Representative Martinez Fischer proposed House Bill 103. All these bills are similar to the proposed bill by Senator Judith Zaffirini (Maxwell, et al., 2011). In addition to these, drivers interviewed by the Center for Transportation Safety found (CTS) at the Texas Transportation Institute showed that the majority of Texas drivers felt unsafe while on the road, as a result of heavy usage of mobile phones while driving than when the cell phone had not hit the market. They cited texting and/or talking as the main area that caused distractions on most drivers. Also, about 52% (Ragamani, 2012)of the drivers who responded said that they would support the ban on cell phone usage while driving. It is necessary to have this law implemented as soon as possible so as to avert any more deaths and injuries resulting from cell phone usage while driving.