New Year, New Texas Laws to Improve Roadway Safety
The first of the year is an important time for policymakers because many new laws officially take effect. In addition to national legislation becoming law, many bills in cities and states across the nation also take hold beginning with the New Year. In Texas, 2015 brought with it a number of new laws, including several that are intended to improve roadway safety.
New Texas roadway safety laws in 2015:
- Austin Distracted Driving Ordinance - Texas is one of last remaining states without a statewide ban on texting while driving for all motorists. In response, many cities began creating ordinances of their own to deal with the problem of distracted driving. In Austin, texting while driving is already illegal. On the first, a municipal ordinance took effect that expanded the ordinance to prohibit any use of handheld phones, laptops, GPS devices, or other electronics while a vehicle is in motion. Fines for violating the ordinance can be as much as $500.
- San Antonio Texting Ban - San Antonio also amended a distracted driving ordinance to prohibit drivers from using handheld phones for making calls, texts, emails, accessing the internet, or using the device in any way. Unlike the ordinance in Austin, drivers will not be allowed to use a handheld phone while stopped in traffic or at intersections. Drivers who violate the ordinance can be fined up to $200, although there is a 30-day grace period in place before police will begin fining drivers.
- Malorie's Law - On January 1 st, the final piece of a Texas law originally enacted in 2013 took effect. Malorie's Law - named after a 19-year-old A&M student who was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident - requires all motorcycles equipped to carry passengers to have foot pegs and handholds on the backseat. This law applies to motorcyclists statewide and complements the first half of the law which bans motorcycles that don't have backseats from transporting passengers.
At Fibich, Leebron, Copeland & Briggs, our personal injury lawyers support the new laws as a means of improving roadway safety for residents across Texas. We would also like to remind residents to drive responsibly and to take these new ordinances and laws into account.