You can spot one in front of you immediately. We have all seen them. The drivers that veer across the center line or hit the shoulder while looking at their phones.
Distracted driving has become the most dangerous situation on the road. April is Distracted Driving month and TxDOT is campaigning for your safety. While this annual campaign is important, we know already that the only way it will be successful is for drivers to choose to stay alert and not use their phones.
Looking away from the road for five seconds at 55 mph is the same as driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. That is scary. Even scarier than that is the thought that your son or daughter may be doing it every time they drive. The age group with the highest accident percentage due to distracted driving is 16-24.
One in five crashes in Texas involved distracted driving in 2017 – a ratio that has not changed in the past three years. An even bigger shocker is that 19 percent of all crashes on Texas roads are caused by distracted driving. A staggering 100,687 crashes that resulted in 444 deaths and 2,889 serious injuries can be blamed on distracted driving. In Lufkin, distracted driving crashes totaled 81, and in Nacogdoches that number was 55. There were many other crashes that were unexplainable but could have likely been caused by driver distraction.
It is time to raise our heads – literally. Look out the windshield and nowhere else when you are driving. The new “Heads Up, Texas” campaign is aimed at reminding drivers to do just that. TxDOT has teamed up with AT&T to stress that whatever takes your attention while driving can wait. That includes a phone call, a text, a selfie photo, a crying baby, pets, reading an email or making a video.
Another danger is talk-texting and many drivers believe it is a safe alternative to typing a text. It is not. First of all, you have to be a walking dictionary of acronyms to do this successfully, and even then, it is still very distracting. I know that LOL means laughing out loud, but I don’t care that SMIM means send me an instant message or TMI stands for too much information. Teen drivers are able to talk or type text with ease and many don’t see either as a danger, but both are against the law.
I hope you take a few minutes to talk about distracted driving with your young driver. Staying alert behind the wheel is the single most important conversation you can have about driving. Making the choice not to text or let a phone distract you could save your life or the life of another person. Don’t let your final words be LOL.
Rhonda Oaks is a Public Information Officer for the Texas Department of Transportation and Lives in Lufkin.
Stop having to buy new tires every six months! FIX IT ONCE AND FOR ALL!
If you would like to comment on this story, we'd love to hear from you. Email us at email@example.com. Be sure to include the story subject in the subject line of your email, also list your name and town in your letter. Your letter will be posted in Letters to the Editor.