COPPELL, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Drivers reportedly caused 95,639 distracted driving crashes on Texas roadways in 2018, according to numbers released to AAA Texas by the Texas Department of Transportation.
Those numbers are actually a little lower than the year before, but AAA says Texas has a long road ahead before the distracted driver issue is solved.
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and AAA Texas is reminding drivers: “Don’t Drive Intoxicated – Don’t Drive Intexticated.”
AAA launched the multimedia traffic safety education campaign in an attempt to make distracted driving socially unacceptable.
New public service announcements began airing in Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston this week.
They are designed “to help audiences understand that the consequences of using a smartphone while driving are the same as drinking and driving. The campaign targets drivers who would never consider drinking alcohol behind the wheel, and yet, regularly engage with mobile devices that dangerously take their eyes, hands and minds off the road,” AAA Texas said in a news release Wednesday.
Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that potentially unsafe mental distractions can persist for as long as 27 seconds after drivers use voice-based technology to dial, change music or send a text message. At 25 mph, drivers travel the length of nearly three football fields during this time.
“Most drivers believe that if their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel, then they are focused on the drive,” said Daniel Armbruster, AAA Texas spokesperson. “But research proves that there are hidden dangers when using a cell phone or in-vehicle technology. Mental distractions last longer than you think and can cause a dangerous crash.”
Additional research also shows drivers talking on a cellphone are up to four times as likely to crash while those who text are up to eight times as likely to be involved in a crash. Despite the risk, drivers increasingly report using technology behind the wheel. Nearly half (49 percent) of drivers report recently talking on a hand-held phone while driving and nearly 35 percent have sent a text or email. This behavior is in contradiction to the fact that nearly 58 percent of drivers say talking on a cellphone behind the wheel is a very serious threat to their personal safety, while 78 percent believe that texting is a significant danger.
“We have created a do as I say, not as I do culture on our roadways. Drivers understand the risk, they just don’t think they are the problem,” said Armbruster. “With 394 people killed on Texas roadways in distracted driving crashes last year, it is time for drivers to be accountable. We can save lives”
AAA says any task that requires taking your eyes or attention off-the-road and hands off-the-wheel can present a dangerous risk on the roadway. That includes changing the radio, programming navigation or even enjoying a sandwich. In order to avoid distraction, AAA Texas recommends:
· Put it away. Place your mobile device out of sight to prevent temptation.
· Know where you’re going. If using a navigation system, program the destination before driving.
· Pull over. If you have to call or text while on the road, pull off the road safely and stop first.
· Ask passengers for help. If riding with someone, seek their help to navigate, make a call or send a message.
· Be a good passenger. Speak out if the driver of your vehicle is distracted.
· Don’t be a distraction. Avoid calling or texting others when you know they are driving.
· Everyone should prevent being intexticated. Just as drivers need to pay attention, so do pedestrians and bicyclists. Never call, text or play games while walking or cycling.