Texas’s April Campaign to Cut Down on Distracted Driving

As the adage goes, April showers bring May flowers. Perhaps this year the adage should be that April’s distracted driving awareness campaign brings safer roads in May.

National Distracted Driving Awareness Month began in 2010, after a resolution was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The resolution started with the founder of FocusDriven, an organization that advocates for cell-free driving. The Colorado mother founded the organization after her 9-year-old daughter was struck and killed by a distracted driver.

For the second year in a row, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has implemented its “Talk. Text. Crash” campaign. According to a spokesman from the TxDOT, it takes an average of four seconds to a driver to look down at a cell phone. When you’re driving at 55 mph and glance down at your phone, you’ve traveled 120 yards during that glance.

The TxDOT is working to get the word out about how those seconds matter, and raise awareness that driving distracted – glancing at cell phones, fiddling with mp3 playlists, looking at passengers – is dangerous.

In 2011, the state of Texas saw 81,000 crashes involving some form of inattentive driving. Of those, 361 car accidents proved to be fatal. And at least 40 percent of those deadly distracted driving accidents were caused by cell phone use.

Handheld cell phone use by commercial drivers, including drivers of buses, semi-trucks and 18-wheelers, was banned by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2011. In addition to the federal law, the state of Texas also has its own laws that ban all cell phone use and texting for bus drivers and novice drivers (those newly licensed under a certain age. In addition, all drivers cannot use handheld cell phones or text while driving in school zones.

Source: OA Online, “TxDOT launches awareness campaign,” 4/4/12.