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Tag: texting and driving

an aerial view of two turn lanes and a white car pulling up to turn right

This may come as a surprise to Texans *wink*, but not all drivers know the rules of the road. So what can we do to make the roads safer? Brush up on those driving laws! Even if you are a safe driver, knowing how to react to certain situations could lead you to make a safer decision, and in a timely manner.

Take the quiz below and find out how you fare. Then, find some pointers on these laws below.

Driving in TX: Do you know state laws?

Some traffic laws vary from state to state. Do you know what to do if an emergency vehicle is parked on the side of the road? Or when to use (or put away) your cell phone? Take our quiz to find out how much you know.

 

Some of these laws are tricky, and some have even changed recently. Here’s an explanation for each of these questions, in case you missed it.

1. If an emergency vehicle is parked on the right side of the road with it’s emergency lights flashing, what should you do?

If the vehicle is parked, you don’t need to stop, but flashing lights indicate that there’s still activity going on on the road. This is why Texas law says cars must slow down to 20 mph under the posted limit. Most drivers are inclined to slow down when they see flashing lights anyway since they associate them with police. Keep in mind there might be debris from an accident, people walking close to the road, and/or stopped traffic ahead.

2. What should you do if a school bus has its yellow hazards flashing?Three teens exit a yellow school bus.

School bus hazards are used much like those of regular vehicles. The most common use is when buses stop for a train track. Busses are required to stop before crossing tracks and look both ways. Drivers in their personal vehicles may not realize, or forget, and could run into the bus if they’re not expecting to stop.

3. Can you cross the median between freeway and frontage road in stopped traffic?

Crossing a median is illegal in all instances, but crossing between frontage and freeway (and vice versa) is a common maneuver for Texans. It may seem like a good idea to get off a slow road, but doing so puts other cars in danger when you merge in a location they aren’t expecting you to merge.

4. Which of these statements on handheld devices is true in Texas?

While Austin used to be entirely hands-free (no talking, texting, messing with electronic devices at all), Texas’ no-texting law overruled that one. Under this state law, sending and receiving messages is banned, but talking on the phone or using devices for other purposes is not.

However, drivers in school zones, drivers with permits, and drivers under 18 may not operate a vehicle and use handheld devices at all.

5. What do you legally have to do if you see a funeral procession?A motorcycle with an American flag pattern, and "funeral escort" on the windshield, leads a line of cars

It may be rude to drive past a funeral, but there’s no law against it. You don’t have to slow down if you’re not putting others in danger. The main thing is to be cautious and respectful.

6. When should you use a turn signal?

Even in a turn lane, you must use a turn signal, Texans. This signals your intention to cars around you. Even if you know you’re in a turn lane, other drivers may not.

7. What does the law say about using the shoulder lane on the highway?

Unsurprisingly, it’s illegal to use the shoulder as a passing lane. However, it’s perfectly legal (and encouraged) for slower drivers to move over into the shoulder lane to let faster cars pass on a two-lane highway.

8. Is it legal to parallel park facing oncoming traffic?

Even though this is common in residential areas, parallel parking the wrong direction is not legal anywhere in Texas. For one, you have to cross oncoming traffic to do so. Another obstacle is the way another parallel-parked car in front of you will block your view when you try to pull out.

a hand holds a phone with text messages pulled up in front of a steering wheel

If you have a teen driver, you’re probably worried about your teen and their newfound freedom. Teen drivers are inexperienced, and therefore less likely to know how to avoid accidents. Only practice will fortify their driving skills, but in the meantime, you can help reduce their risk of an accident by giving them hands-free tools for the road.

Drivers under 20 are at the highest risk of distracted driving accidents, largely thanks to phones. Cell phone users are 5.36 times more likely to get into an accident. In 2018, 4,637 people died due to driver cell phone use.

Luckily, there are quite a few hands-free tools to help your teen driver keep their attention on the road.

1. Bluetooth audio for hands-free calls

bluetooth adapter options on Amazon
These are a few top-rated Bluetooth receiver options from Amazon.com

If your teen’s vehicle is not already connected for Bluetooth, there are affordable adapter options for older vehicles. Bluetooth allows for hands-free calling, audio control, and voice-to-text.

For cars that are already connected with Bluetooth, make sure your teen knows how to pair their devices to use these capabilities. Newer cars also have the option of controlling volume and audio tracks from buttons on their steering wheel – so their hands don’t have to leave the steering wheel.

Though we still recommend that teens keep this usage to a minimum, it offers a safer way to communicate than grabbing for their phone.

2. Earn points with a driving app

Safe 2 Save is a Texas-based app that rewards you at local businesses for safe driving. For every minute you drive hands-free, you earn 2 points. That adds up to some great rewards at your favorite places.

Some insurance companies, like State Farm, also have their own app for safe drivers, often providing discounts on insurance for safe drivers.

3. Simplify basic apps for driving

Visual of the Drive Mode app that has big buttons with simple functions like calling and playing audio
Apps like Drivemode can simplify the most commonly used phone features for easy access and less time with your eyes off the road.

Drivemode is another helpful app that can greatly reduce distraction. The app controls your messages, music, apps, and navigation, and simplifies them. This allows for a few simple, easy-to-see controls, as well as voice commands.

4. Easy-to-use dash mount

A small mount on the dash hold a smartphone
Use a magnetic phone mount to keep your teen’s phone near their line of vision instead of them looking away from the road to check it.

One of our biggest recommendations is that if you are going to use your phone at all while you drive, have it somewhere stable near your line of vision. These handy magnet mounts make setup effortless and come with more than one magnet for another device (like a GPS).

The magnets are slim and fit into your phone case, and are also strong enough to hold your phone securely through the case.

5. An organizer for essentials

When your teen is driving, make sure they know to keep things they need accessible. If they will be going through a drive-thru, they’ll probably need their wallet, or a place to drop spare change. Using a front-seat organizer can help keep them from reaching around the car unnecessarily.

Again, while this should be kept to a minimum, it’s likely your teen will want to grab something they use frequently. It could be a water bottle, lip balm, a snack bar – keeping these sort of items in a convenient space, within reach, could save your teen from spending unnecessary time looking away from the road.

For more teen driving safety tips, follow Fogle Collision on Facebook.

The camera looks at a driver and passenger from the backseat. They appear to be driving on an open highway and the driver is using his cell phone.
Find out how Texas’ new texting-while-driving law affects you.

Texas’ new texting and driving law is cracking down on distracted drivers. It is now illegal to write, send, or read on your phone while driving. In 2016, distracted driving accidents killed more than 450 Texans, and the number of accidents increased by three percent.

Understanding the new law is not only important to avoid a fine and ticket, but also for safety.

Steps to quit texting and driving

If you are a driver who feels the need to immediately respond to a text or social media message, it is time to get in the habit of not using your phone while driving. The easiest way to avoid the temptation is to commit yourself to safe driving and place your cell out of reach. Try putting your phone on silent in the glove compartment, or in the backseat.

Some phones and/or applications allow voice-to-text features that will allow you to respond to messages without touching your phone. If you have a long commute or feel an urgent need to respond to messages, you might consider an application that will both read your new messages and allow you to respond via voice command.

Bluetooth connectivity also allows for in-car phone calls. Though Houston does not require hands-free calls, it may be easier to call than it is to respond via text. It is also safer than holding the phone and taking one hand off the wheel during your call.

Know the law

With the new law, drivers can still make and receive phone calls, however, if you are making a call while driving it must be hands-free. Use a voice activated feature on your phone to dial the number for you.

Unlike many states, the law does not prevent you from texting or reading while stopped at a red light. Once the car is in motion you must put the cell phone down.

If an officer sees a driver looking down or the car not maintaining a lane, they can pull the car over to determine if the driver was texting.

We know accidents can happen, but texting and driving accidents can be prevented.

If you are in an accident, our team at Fogle Collision are here to help make the repair process efficient. We’ll get you an estimate so you can get your vehicle repaired and get back on the road.

A driver behind the wheel holds the steering wheel in one hand and a smartphone in the other.
Distractions like texting take our eyes and minds off the road.

Distractions are everywhere. They demand our attention throughout the day, including when we drive. Texting

while driving has become such an issue that starting September 1, 2017 in Texas, it will be illegal to text and drive.

Campaigns are also in place by several organizations nationwide and major cell phone providers to send a constant reminder that using a phone while driving leads to injuries and fatalities. Every week, Houston body shops repair cars involved in distracted driving accidents.

Distractions, distractions, and more distractions

There is a long list of what can distract a driver, but there are only three types of distraction that interfere with concentration – cognitive, visual, and manual. An example of a manual distraction would be a driver removing hands from the steering wheel. Cognitive distractions take the driver’s focus away and visual takes the driver’s eyes off of the road.

Other actions that keep someone from focusing solely on driving include changing the radio station, looking at a map, talking on the phone or to others in the car, and eating. A recent survey showed that more than 60 percent say they have watched a driver apply makeup while driving, more than 50 percent witnessed someone reading, and more than 20 percent have seen a driver take a selfie while behind the wheel.

Although these tasks were not high scoring in the survey, people also witnessed drivers putting in contacts, flossing teeth, and actually putting on a costume.

Real risks

A few seconds of a distraction behind the wheel can be deadly. Nationwide, there were 3,477 people who died in accidents in 2015 that were caused by a distracted driver.

Don’t get distracted

Most distractions are preventable. It starts with the driver making a conscious effort to focus only on driving. As a driver gets into the car, that is when any seat or mirror adjustments should be made, plus setting the radio and GPS.

If you find yourself taking your eyes off of the road to look at your phone, put it somewhere in the vehicle that you can’t reach while driving. Make a firm commitment to yourself that you will only check your phone once you get to your destination.

At Fogle Collision Centers, we hope everyone drives safely. If you are involved in a collision due to distracted driving, we can take care of your auto body repairs. Our technicians will perform high quality repairs to your vehicle so you can get back on the road.

For more driving safety tips, follow us on Facebook.

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