Beginning this week, The Texas Department of Transportation is seeking to educate the public on the dangers of texting and/or talking on the phone while behind the wheel.
As part of TxDOT's "Talk, Text, Crash" campaign, the agency is hosting events across the state featuring a car-sized, 750-pound crashed phone as the backdrop for guest speakers who will offer insight about loved ones they've lost due to talking and texting while driving.
Researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said drivers who use a cell phone behind the wheel are four times more likely to get into a crash serious enough to cause injury. In addition, a study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute revealed almost half of Texas drivers have admitted using a cell phone while driving, and almost a quarter of drivers say they sometimes or regularly send or read text messages while driving. Distracted driving-related crashes in Texas are highest among young adults ages 16 to 24, followed by adults over the age of 44. Last year in Texas, 505 people were killed and 19,981 people were seriously injured in distracted driving crashes.
Joined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, law enforcement, and community leaders, TxDOT is urging motorists to focus 100 percent on driving when they are behind the wheel. Cell phone use may be one of the most visible distractions, but any behavior that takes a driver's attention away from the road is dangerous, including eating, reading, grooming, programming a GPS, or adjusting the radio.
While cell phone use is the most recognizable driving distraction, TxDOT's "Talk, Text, Crash" campaign warns that any behavior that takes a motorist's attention away from the road is dangerous. Distractions can include:
- Checking email
- Eating and drinking
- Programming a navigation system
- Adjusting a radio, CD player or other audio device
Driving requires 100 percent undivided attention. With this in mind, motorists should:
- Put the phone away-or turn it off-before getting behind the wheel.
- Pull off the road entirely before texting or talking on the phone.
- Tell friends and coworkers they will not respond to calls or texts when driving.
- Use a smartphone app that sends auto-reply texts when they are behind the wheel.
DISTRACTED DRIVING FACTS
- 19,981 people were seriously injured and 505 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in Texas in 2013. (TxDOT)
- Reaction times double when drivers read or send text messages. (TTI)
- Texting takes your eyes off the road for nearly five seconds, on average. At 55 mph, that is like driving an entire football field blindfolded. (NHTSA)
- Drivers who use a cell phone when driving are four times as likely to get into a crash serious enough to cause injury. (IIHS)