What You Need to Know about Distracted Driving in Texas

Dangers of distracted driving in Texas from Kay Van Wey, Personal Injury Attorney

Experts now call distracted driving an epidemic because incidents that end in gruesome accidents across the country are becoming more and more common as a result of people looking at their phones while driving.

Distracted driving can come in many forms, not just through the use of a cellular phone to text. Talking to other people in the car, eating, changing radio stations, or even talking on hands free devices all pull attention away from the road.

One of the most vulnerable populations is teenagers, who are already at a heightened risk of being involved in an accident. Parents of teen drivers can help their newly minted drivers be aware of the risks of texting and driving, but also all forms of distracted driving. Doing so may just save their own life, and also the lives of others on the road, like those in passenger vehicles, pedestrians, and even cyclists across Texas.

Sadly, family members every day have to say goodbye to loved ones who have perished as a result of a distracted driving incident. No matter what the cause, it’s hard to grieve and move on when you know that your loved one’s death was completely preventable and senseless. There is no phone call or text that is worth a life lost.

There has been a spike in the number of laws dedicated to the distracted driving issue. Around the country, but also right here at home in Texas, lawmakers have been considering regulations that will hopefully deter behavior and cut down on the number of terrible auto accidents that are claiming these lives.

Even though 1 in 5 crashes in the state of Texas can be linked directly to distracted driving, Texas is one of only a handful of states that does not have a ban on texting at the wheel. Other states, like Oklahoma, Montana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Arizona are also catching flak for failing to respond to this growing problem on their roads.

The argument, according to lawmakers, is whether or not it’s a violation of personal freedoms for legislators to mandate that drivers put their phones down or face serious consequences. A measure to ban texting and driving already came through Texas several years ago, but it was vetoed by Governor Rick Perry who believed that the measure was “government micromanagement.”

It’s not as though nothing has been done, however. Texting and driving is banned in school zones and cities are allowed to pass bans as they wish, but no statewide measures have been successful yet at cutting down on the practice. Several cities, like Austin and San Antonio, have already shown some initiative in banning the practice, allowing police to write tickets for those who are caught texting behind the wheel.

It is important that we all do our part by putting our phones down while driving, and urging others who are driving to do the same. It only takes a split second for tragedy to strike. Once it does, there is no going back. Please think twice about your safety and the safety of those around you on Texas roadways and let’s bring this epidemic to a halt.

To learn more about what you can do to make a difference, download my free EBook, Distracted to Death, today.


Distracted Driving Shatters Lives

Distracted Driving Kills Innocent Victims

Know the True Dangers

With car crashes being the leading cause of unintentional deaths in the United States, it is imperative to show how distracted driving shatters lives so everyone can fully understand the risks faced while on the road.  Driving deserves the driver’s full attention because many lives are on the line while traveling on back roads, highways and interstates. There are many distractions that a driver may encounter while behind the wheel, but the leading one today is texting.

More than 70 percent of adults and teens have admitted to texting while driving. Research shows that the average driver takes their eyes off the road five seconds while texting. While five seconds doesn’t seem long at all, it is long enough to result in an accident that can shatter lives. As an example, if a car is traveling at 55 mph, five seconds gives them enough time to travel the length of a football field, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI).

Data released by VTTI also shows that drivers who become involved in visual-manual sub-tasks, which include texting, dialing or reaching for a phone, are three times more likely to get into a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported in 2012 that 11% of all drivers younger than 20 who were involved in fatal crashes that year were reportedly distracted during the crash.

States Enacting Laws

Many states have enacted laws that crack down on distracted driving, and more efforts are underway to promote the awareness of the dangers. The NHTSA reports everyday more than 1,060 people being injured and more than 9 people being killed in crashes on U.S. roadways in accidents that involve a distracted driver. These are injuries that could be prevented and lives that could be saved if the message just gets out detailing the actual dangers.

There are three main kinds of distracted driving – visual, manual and cognitive, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Visual involves taking one’s eyes off the road, manual means taking one’s hands off the steering wheel, and cognitive involves taking your mind off what you are doing … driving. The instances of distracted driving in the U.S. are much greater than those reported across Europe.

Powerful Public Service Announcement

Several European countries have launched successful distracted driving campaigns that feature public service announcements aired on public television that show violent crashes resulting from distracted driving that involve serious injury and death. Because it seems as though those graphic ads have proven effective, the U.S. has now followed suit. The new ad campaign is kicking off National Distracted Driving Month.

The new PSA, which was done by The Tombras Group, targets teens. It is short and gets straight to the point while showing a car filled with happy teens driving down the highway up until the point where the driver gets a text message as the car is nearing an intersection. Of course, she darts her eye from the road for just a second, but that is long enough to run a stop sign and go directly into the path of another vehicle.

Perhaps those who view the new ad will wake up and become aware of the dangers of distracted driving. It is definitely riveting. With the theme, “U drive. U text. U pay.” hopefully teens will get the message. For more information on what you can do to end distracted driving, visit JustPutitDown.com, my campaign to end this senseless act. Take the pledge and grab a free EBook to share with family and friends.