AUSTIN, Texas - April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. AAA Texas is launching its "Don't Drive Intoxicated, Don't Drive Intexicated" campaign to remind drivers to focus on the road rather than on their smartphones.
More than half of drivers (51%) admitted they text and/or email on their phone while alone in the vehicle, according to a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey in 2021.
"Deaths continue to increase on Texas roadways due to distracted driving," said AAA Texas Spokesperson Daniel Armbruster in a news release. "Research shows that looking down at your phone for two seconds, while behind the wheel, doubles your risk for a crash. AAA Texas reminds all drivers to never drive intoxicated or intexticated as both have deadly consequences."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 3,138 people died in distracted-related crashes in the U.S. in 2020, accounting for 8.1% of all roadway fatalities. That’s an average of 9 people killed each day in crashes that are totally preventable. Additionally, another 400,000 people are injured each year in distracted-related crashes.
In 2021 in Texas, according to the latest statistics from the Texas Department of Transportation, 431 people died statewide in crashes involving distracted driving. That was a 17% increase from 2020 and a 14% increase from 2019. TxDOT reports there were 2,935 serious injuries due to distracted driving in 2021, which was a 33% jump from the prior year and a 17% increase from 2019.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says many dangerous driving behaviors increased during the pandemic, such as speeding, running red lights, not wearing seatbelts, impaired driving, and distracted driving.
Officials say distracted driving is especially dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists. Non-drivers account for nearly one in five distracted driving deaths. Nationally in 2020, there were 480 pedestrians, 83 bicyclists, and 14 other non-occupants killed in crashes that involved a driver who was reported to be distracted. It is unknown how many of these other pedestrians, cyclists, and other non-occupants were also distracted at the time.
TIPS TO ELIMINATE DISTRACTED DRIVING
AAA Texas encourages all drivers to eliminate distracted driving by following these tips:
- 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.
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