Nearly one in five crashes in Texas involves distracted driving – a ratio that has not changed in the past three years – and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is warning drivers that law enforcement will be cracking down on such activity throughout the month of April.
“It’s extremely concerning that drivers still choose to give their attention to things other than the road when they’re behind the wheel,” noted TxDOT Executive Director James Bass in a statement. “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% of vehicle crashes on Texas roads involved distracted driving, he said, and those 100,687 crashes resulted in 444 deaths and 2,889 serious injuries.
In an effort to curb distracted-driving crashes, TxDOT is launching a new “Heads up, Texas” campaign in partnership with AT&T that includes a month-long 19-city distracted-driving virtual reality experience tour.
According to AT&T, 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 nine out of 10, or 89%, admit they do it.
TxDOT emphasized that on Sept. 1 last year a texting-while-driving ban became law, making it illegal to read, write or send a text while driving in Texas, with violators facing fines of 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, the top five smartphone distractions while driving are:
- Snapping/viewing photos
- Playing music
- Accessing social media
To learn more about TxDOT’s “Heads up, Texas” campaign, visit txdot.gov/driver/share-road/distracted.html.