Rhett Hoestenbach, P.C. Law Firm

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Does Austin's "Hands-Free" Prevent Injury?

February 2015 the City of Austin began issuing fines for the use of all hand-held electronic devices while operating a vehicle or bicycle. Fines can be as much as $500 for driving while using a portable electronic device. It's valuable to know how you can steer clear of penalties and if you will be kept safe on the roads. Austin's Hands Free ordinance bans the use of portable devices while driving on the road. The City of Austin classifies a portable device as:

  • Mobile Telephone
  • personal Digital Assistant
  • MP3 or other hand-held music player
  • Electronic Reading Device
  • Laptop computer
  • Pager
  • Broadband Personal Communication Device
  • GPS or Navigation System
  • Electronic Gaming Device
  • Portable Computing Device


Prevent Injury - Invest in Bluetooth

Under the new provision you can still use your device to make phone calls when conducted through a hands free device. These small electronic devices connect to portable electronic devices through Bluetooth connection so that users can do necessary manipulations without ever taking their eyes off the road. But what happens when Siri, or Google can't understand your pronunciation of "Manchaca" "Guadalupe" or "Lavaca" streets? That's when these devices don't make the cut for experts on driving safety such as the National Safety Council. Experts say that Bluetooth devices may not be effective in preventing crashes.  

Be Wary of Crashes Due to Driver Accident

The (NSC) National Safety Council believes that the ordinance does not go far enough. They warn that using a hands-free device can be a deceiving practice that does not prevent drivers from engaging in distracted behavior while on the road. Studies show drivers engaged in multi-tasking on the roads decrease brain processing of moving objects by up to ⅓ when listening and talking on the phone. But wouldn't a passenger be just as dangerous as talking on the phone? No, says NSC, a passenger can act as a second set of eyes to help look for road hazards and can react in real time. According to NSC, 90% of crashes are caused by driver error, not road conditions or mechanical failure. If you are ever in a car accident and someone is injured, dial 911. Cell phone use is permitted in emergency purposes. After receiving the care you need, contact a personal injury lawyer to open a claim with an insurance company. Call Rhett Hoestenbach, Board Certified Personal Injury Attorney, for a free consultation: 512-472-8865 or email [email protected]

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