With technology at their fingertips, drivers are constantly faced with distractions, such as talking or texting, which places their safety and that of others at serious risk. April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the Texas Department of Transportation is launching the “Talk. Text. Crash.” campaign to raise awareness of the dangers associated with distracted driving and to encourage Texans to put down their cell phones while driving.
Distracted driving is becoming increasingly common and dangerous, causing traffic crashes and fatalities. This deadly trend is widespread in Texas, where nearly one in four crashes involves driver distraction, according to TxDOT. In 2011 alone, more than 81,000 Texas crashes involved distraction in the vehicle, driver inattention, or cell phone use. Sadly, 361 of those crashes were fatal. Cell phone use contributed to 3,147 crashes, 40 of which were fatal.
Drivers can be distracted by conversing with other passengers, eating, smoking, manipulating dashboard controls, reaching for something in the vehicle, and talking or texting on a cell phone. Among the many distractions drivers face on the road, cell phone use is one of the most common and a major cause of distracted driving traffic accidents and fatalities. At any given moment during the daylight hours, more than 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety.
Teen drivers are more likely than other age groups to be involved in a fatal crash where distraction is reported. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted; 11 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. In Texas, 46 percent of urban teens and 52 percent of rural teens talk on a cell phone while driving, and nearly the same percentage text while driving. (Texas Transportation Institute).
“Drivers simply do not realize the dangers that are posed when they take their eyes and minds off the road and their hands off the wheel and focus on activities other than driving,” said Carol T. Rawson, P.E., TxDOT’s Traffic Operations Division Director. “Talk. Text. Crash. reminds Texans of the consequences associated with distracted driving. Eliminating distractions and putting away their cell phones while driving can and will save lives.”
The Talk. Text. Crash. campaign aims to reduce distracted driving, not only for National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, but throughout the year. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agents, Missy Hodgin and Sherri Halsell, from Clay County reminds drivers to put away their cell phones and wait until they arrive at their destination to use their phone. Although cell phone use is the most easily recognized distraction, all in-vehicle distractions are unsafe and can cause crashes or fatalities. Keep your eyes on the road and arrive alive!