• Mestemaker & Straub

The Price of Distracted Driving

According to TXDOT Distracted driving continues to be a problem in Texas as data indicates that drivers are not changing their behaviors. With 1 in 5 crashes involving distracted driving – a ratio that has not changed in the past three years – TxDOT’s annual Talk, Text, Crash campaign is aimed at raising awareness of the dangers associated with distracted driving and encouraging Texans to put away their cellphones while driving.

In 2017, the total number of reportable motor vehicle traffic crashes on Texas roads was 537,475. Of those, 100,687 or 19% involved distracted driving (driver distraction, inattention or cellphone use). The 100,687 crashes in Texas resulted in 444 deaths and 2,889 serious injuries.

As of Sept. 1, 2017, a new statewide law makes it illegal for all drivers to read, write or send a text and drive in Texas. Law enforcement officers are looking for drivers with their heads down distracted by their phones, leading TxDOT to launch its new “Heads up, Texas” campaign. 

What is distracted driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that takes your attention away from driving. Distractions can include anything from texting and talking on a mobile phone to eating and drinking, putting on makeup, shaving, reading, programming a navigation system, watching a video and even adjusting the radio. 

What if I need to text or call someone immediately?

Remember, distracted driving of any kind is dangerous. If you must talk or text, pull over to a safe location. 

  • Give driving 100 percent of your attention, 100 percent of the time.

  • It's safer to pull into a parking lot before diverting your attention to your phone or other activity.

  • Put your phone away – or turn it off – before getting behind the wheel.

  • Tell friends, family, and coworkers you won’t respond to calls or texts when driving.

  • Use a smartphone app that sends auto-reply texts when you’re behind the wheel.

  • Join us and take the It Can Wait pledge as a commitment to keep your heads up.

TxDOT Partners with AT&T It Can Wait

The new campaign includes AT&T It Can Wait, the corporate leader in addressing distracted driving tied to smartphones nationwide, as a key partner. AT&T It Can Wait’s newly released data on Texans’ attitudes towards smartphone usage while driving indicates that the risky behavior is more pervasive with nearly 9 out of 10 (89%) admitting they do it.

TxDOT and AT&T It Can Wait will also bring a distracted driving virtual reality experience to Texas for the first time to educate Texans at a very local level on the new law and dangers of distracted driving. The tour will travel to 18 cities in Texas. For more information, please dial (800) 558-9368, toll free, to automatically be connected to the local TxDOT District office nearest you.

How can you avoid an accident caused by distracted driving?

If you are an iPhone user, there is the new ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature that purposely does not alert you when someone text messages you, and the feature will respond on your behalf to let the person know that you are driving. Other apps have similar features such as AT&T Drive Mode, LifeSaver, and SafeRide.

Uniquely, the app True Motion Family provides the driver with a “trip score” at the end of every ride to allow the driver to pinpoint exactly where distracted driving occurred by taking snapshots of driving behaviors.

Whether fatal or not, any accident caused by distracted driving is an accident not worth having. Those text messages can always wait.

The emotional and physical trauma can be devastating to all who are involved; the lawsuits that could follow can become a burden and are not worth the risk.  It is essential to know the rules of the road in your local town and to make safe driving a priority.

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