Distracted Driving in Texas: TxDOT Distracted Driving Campaign
Because the problem of distracted driving continues to grow, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is using the month of April, or National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, to urge drivers to put their mobile devices where they can’t see or hear them, and pay attention to the road, for a change. Hence the launch of the 2014 version of their annual Talk, Text, Crash public education campaign.
The statistics are frightening, to be sure. It’s estimated one of every five crashes in Texas is caused by a distracted driver. In 2013, the total number of crashes involving a driver who was distracted was 94,943, and that was about 4 percent higher than the number from 2012. Those crashes resulted in 18,576 serious injuries and 459 deaths altogether.
While such accidents affect drivers of all ages, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), hand-held cell phone use is the most commonly cited accident cause for drivers under 25. In Texas, distracted-driving-related crashes and fatalities are highest among young adults and adults over the age of 45.
Studies have found that those drivers who use a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle are up to four times more likely to get into a crash serious enough to result in an injury. Text messaging is especially dangerous. According to new research from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, a driver’s reaction time actually doubles when he or she has been distracted by text messaging. Overall, sending or receiving of a text message distracts a driver for 4.6 seconds on average, which means he or she is not looking at the road for that time. At 55 miles per hour, that driver will cover the distance of a football field, essentially blind.
While talking or texting on a cell phone is the most obvious form of distracted driving, any type of behavior that takes a driver’s attention off the road is dangerous. That can also include checking email, programming a GPS device, watching a video, operating a radio or other audio device, or even eating, drinking, reading or putting on makeup.
Regardless of these terrible statistics, TxDOT wants everyone to know that every crash, injury and death was and is preventable, if only every single driver was paying 100% of their attention to the act of driving. The Talk, Text, Crash campaign will attempt to get drivers to avoid multitasking or engaging in non-driving activities until they get to their destination, to keep everyone safe.