Texas House Bill 242, which imposes harsh penalties for texting, sending instant messages, or checking emails while driving, may soon become law. The bill is awaiting Governor Perry’s signature.

Under the new law, anyone who violates the ban on texting, messaging, and emailing could face a fine of up to $200 and up to 30 days in jail. If their actions cause serious injuries to, or the death of, another person the driver could face 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. Currently, Austin, San Antonio and El Paso already have bans on texting while driving.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2009, 3,308 crashes were caused by cell phone usage while driving in Texas alone. Among those crashes, 41 people were killed. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that distracted driving, which includes cell phone use, was to blame for 20 percent of traffic deaths in the U.S. in 2009. In 2005, distracted driving was to blame for only 10 percent of traffic deaths. Currently texting while driving has been banned in 33 states.

Texting while driving is especially dangerous for teens, most of whom are not experienced enough drivers to handle any outside distractions while driving. However, 50 percent of teens admitted to texting while driving in a survey. Some studies have shown texting and driving to be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.

Have you been involved in an accident with a driver who was texting at the time of the accident? If so, the driver could be held legally responsible for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and more. Call Dallas personal injury attorney Kris Barber at 817-527-8833.