In spite of social media campaigns, television commercials, radio ads, and more, many Texans just can’t seem to consistently focus on the road while behind the wheel. The Texas Department of Transportation reports that 1 in every 5 accidents happening on our state’s roadways is the result of distracted driving.
In 2020 alone, these crashes were responsible for 364 deaths and 2,200 serious injuries.
Texting is still a particularly pervasive distraction for drivers in spite of the fact that it’s been illegal in Texas since September of 2017 to read, write or send a message while driving. This is because texting involves all of the three major types of distraction:
- Cognitive: thinking about something else, thus taking your focus away from driving
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road, which means that you can’t adequately respond to sudden changes in traffic patterns (such as a car in front slamming on its brakes)
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
Strategies to avoid driving while distracted
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In conjunction with that, TxDOT has provided a number of tips and strategies to help drivers stay focused on the task at hand and arrive safely at their destination. These include:
- Stop texting, whether using a hands-free device or a hand-held one, since research has shown that even using voice-to-text is still significantly distracting
- Avoid such activities that would take your mind and eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel, including eating, drinking, grooming, using a handheld GPS device, or programming music; these can all be done before you leave or after you arrive at your destination
- Give driving its due attention (i.e. your full focus)
- Pull over and come to a complete stop in a safe place before using your phone to talk or text
- Tell friends, family, and other loved ones that you won’t be responding to texts or answering calls while driving
- Use an app that alerts senders of incoming messages that you are driving and won’t respond until you are no longer behind the wheel
Past experience tells us that not all drivers will follow this commonsense advice and will continue to drive while distracted. These distracted drivers are dangerous, and they commonly cause crashes. If you have been seriously injured in an accident caused by a driver who wasn’t paying attention, you have legal rights. Consider reaching out to a personal injury advocate to learn more.