AUSTIN, Texas, March 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- With technology at their fingertips, drivers are constantly faced with distractions such as talking or texting, putting their safety and that of others at serious risk. April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is launching the Talk. Text. Crash. campaign to raise awareness of the dangers associated with distracted driving and to encourage Texans to put down their cell phones while driving.
Distracted driving is becoming increasingly common and dangerous, causing traffic crashes and fatalities. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows the proportion of fatalities reportedly associated with driver distraction increased from 10 percent in 2005 to 16 percent in 2009. In fact, 20 percent of injury crashes nationally in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving.
This deadly trend is mirrored in Texas, where nearly one in four crashes involves driver distraction, according to TxDOT. In 2009 alone, over 100,000 vehicles were involved in crashes where distraction in vehicle, driver inattention or cell phone use was cited. Sadly, 408 of those crashes were fatal.
Drivers can be distracted by conversing with other passengers, eating, smoking, manipulating dashboard controls, reaching for something in the vehicle, and talking or texting on a cell phone. Among the many distractions drivers face on the road, cell phone use is one of the most common and a major cause of distracted driving traffic accidents and fatalities. At any given moment during the daylight hours, over 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone, according to NHTSA. In 2009, 3,308 crashes in Texas were attributed to cell phone use and 41 of those crashes were fatal.
"Drivers simply do not realize the dangers that are posed when they take their eyes and minds off the road and their hands off the wheel and focus on activities other than driving," said Carol T. Rawson, P.E., TxDOT's Traffic Operations Division Director. " 'Talk. Text. Crash.' reminds Texans of the consequences associated with distracted driving. Eliminating distractions and putting away their cell phones while driving can and will save lives."
The Talk. Text. Crash. campaign aims to reduce distracted driving, not only for National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, but throughout the year. TxDOT asks drivers to put away their cell phones and wait until they arrive at their destination to use their phone. Although cell phone use is the most easily recognized distraction, all in-vehicle distractions are unsafe and can cause crashes or fatalities.
TxDOT through a partnership with Nationwide will be conducting a four-market tour to spread the word about distracted driving. The tour will include a driving simulator that allows users to experience the effects of distracted driving in a controlled environment.
The Texas Department of Transportation
The Texas Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining nearly 80,000 miles of road and for supporting aviation, rail and public transportation across the state. TxDOT and its approximately 12,000 employees strive to empower local leaders to solve local transportation problems, and to use new financial tools, including tolling and public-private partnerships, to reduce congestion and pave the way for future economic growth while enhancing safety, improving air quality and preserving the value of the state's transportation assets. Find out more at www.txdot.gov. Fan us on Facebook www.facebook.com/TxDOT. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/txdot.