AUSTIN – April is National Distracted Driving Month and with nearly 1 in 5 crashes in Texas involving distracted driving – a ratio that has not changed in the past three years – the Texas Department of Transportation reminds drivers that their undivided attention to the road could save a life.
“It’s extremely concerning that drivers still choose to give their attention to things other than the road when they’re behind the wheel,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “As a society, we’re more connected than ever to our devices and easily tempted to multitask, but drivers need to understand all of these various distractions can lead to a tragic outcome.”
In 2017, 19 percent of vehicle crashes on Texas roads involved distracted driving. Those 100,687 crashes resulted in 444 deaths and 2,889 serious injuries. In an effort to curb distracted-driving crashes, TxDOT is launching its new “Heads up, Texas” campaign in partnership with AT&T It Can Wait. The centerpiece of the campaign is a 19-city, distracted-driving virtual reality experience launching in Waco on April 4.
According to AT&T It Can Wait, the majority of Texans ages 15-54 admit to driving distracted because of their smartphone. Additionally, nearly all Texans surveyed consider smartphone distractions to be dangerous while driving, but nearly 9 out of 10, or 89 percent, admit they do it.
“The It Can Wait campaign shares a simple message: Distracted driving is never OK,” said Ryan Luckey, assistant vice president of Corporate Brand Marketing for AT&T. “We’re proud to join TxDOT in sharing that message with Texans through revealing survey data and events that highlight the dangers and the new law.”
Effective Sept. 1, 2017, a texting-while-driving ban was written into law making it illegal to read, write or send a text while driving in Texas. Violators can face a fine up to $200. Though texting while driving is now punishable by law, it’s not the only smartphone activity putting Texas drivers and passengers at risk. Among those Texans surveyed by AT&T It Can Wait, the top 5 smartphone distractions while driving are:
-Accessing social media
To learn more about TxDOT’s “Heads up, Texas” campaign, visit txdot.gov/driver/share-road/distracted.html or contact Rhonda.Oaks@txdot.gov.
- Rhonda Oaks is the Public Information Officer for the nine-county Lufkin District of the Texas Department of Transportation. A Lufkin native, she is a graduate of Hudson High School and Angelina College. She has a background in print journalism and worked for many years as a newspaper reporter and a freelance writer. She has received eight Associated Press awards. Her articles have been published in many publications over the past 25 years.