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TxDOT is taking its “Talk, Text, Crash” campaign on the road this summer with events around the state to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. Throughout the rest of June, you may see some TxDOT employees traveling the roadways in Texas with a giant-sized smartphone that looks like it just survived a collision – just to remind us motorists not to talk or text while driving.
One in every five traffic crashes in Texas is caused by distracted driving, and it’s getting worse. There were 95,000-plus traffic crashes in the Lone Star State last year that involved distracted drivers. More than 19,000 people were seriously injured in those crashes, and 505 people were killed.
A lot of things can pull our attention away from the road when we’re driving: fiddling with the radio, eating and drinking, grooming, reading, programming the nav system, or adjusting the mirror. They’re all distractions that can be harmful and sometimes fatal.
Using a cell phone while driving is extremely dangerous and almost always unnecessary. Doing so doubles our reaction times, and those who do are four times more likely to get into a serous crash that causes injuries. Checking or answering a text message takes your eyes off the road for nearly five seconds. For a driver traveling only 55 mph, that’s like driving the entire length of a football field blindfolded.
TxDOT wants drivers to focus 100 percent on driving. To that end, they are encouraging drivers to: turn off or silence your phone when you’re behind the wheel, to remove the temptation; put your phone out of reach; pull over if you have to take or make a call or a text; tell others you won’t respond when you’re driving; and use those smartphone apps that disable your phone when you’re driving.
Texas doesn’t have a statewide law banning adults from using cell phones while driving, but as of 2012 more than 20 Texas cities have local ordinances that prohibit or limit the use of cell phones when we’re behind the wheel. State law does prohibit the use of hand-held cellular devices in school zones, and drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using cell phones and hands-free devices to talk or text while driving.