April is National Distracted Driving Month and with nearly 1 in 5 crashes in Texas involving distracted driving – a ratio that has not changed in the past three years – the Texas Department of Transportation reminds drivers that their undivided attention to the road could save a life.
“It’s extremely concerning that drivers still choose to give their attention to things other than the road when they’re behind the wheel,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “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 percent of vehicle crashes on Txas roads involved distracted driving. Those 100,687 crashes resulted in 444 deaths and 2,889 serious injuries. In an effort to curb distracted-driving crashes, TxDOT is launching its new “Heads up, Texas” campaign in partnership with AT&T It Can Wait. The centerpiece of the campaign is a 19-city, distracted-driving virtual reality experience launching in Waco on April 4.
According to AT&T It Can Wait, 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 9 out of 10, or 89 percent, admit they do it.
“The It Can Wait campaign shares a simple message: Distracted driving is never OK,” said Ryan Luckey, assistant vice president of Corporate Brand Marketing for AT&T. “We’re proud to join TxDOT in sharing that message with Texans through revealing survey data and events that highlight the dangers and the new law.”
Effective Sept. 1, 2017, a texting-while-driving ban was written into law making it illegal to read, write or send a text while driving in Texas. Violators can face a fine 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 It Can Wait, the top 5 smartphone distractions while driving are:
- Snapping/viewing photos.
- Playing music.
- Accessing social media.
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 launch in Dallas on Tuesday, April 3 then continue on to 19 cities in Texas
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.