Distracted driving sign

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the total number of reportable motor vehicle traffic crashes on Texas roads in 2017 was 537,475. Of those crashes, 100,687 involved driver distraction, inattention or cellphone use.

In Texas, 378 people died in more than 97,000 distracted driving crashes in 2019, according to the latest data from the Texas Department of Transportation.

AAA Texas believes no life is worth losing to distraction. Focused drivers save lives. AAA Texas urges all drivers to pay attention and focus on the road during this National Distracted Driving Awareness month and all year long.

“Nearly 380 people lost their lives due to a distracted driving crash in the Lone Star State last year,” AAA Texas Spokesperson Daniel Armbruster said. “And 2,500 were reported as seriously injured. There is no text message worth reading or sending when injuring or killing someone is the potential cost.”

“Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated.” is the tagline for AAA Texas’ ongoing initiative to end distracted driving. The campaign reminds drivers that the consequences of alcohol-impaired driving and texting while driving could be the same — deaths and injuries that are entirely preventable.

Distractions include more than texting. Anything that diverts attention from driving — eating and drinking, adjusting the navigation, or picking your next podcast, talking to other passengers, or talking or texting on the phone — can result in a fatal injury.

Despite what some drivers may think, hands-free is not risk-free. Even with your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, you are not safe unless your mind focuses on the drive.

Looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash. Here are AAA Texas’ top tips to avoid distractions while driving:

Prepare for your drive

Set vehicle systems like GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time. And finish dressing and personal grooming at home — before you get on the road.

Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated.

The consequences of alcohol-impaired driving and texting while driving could be the same: Put aside electronic distractions and never use text messaging, email, video games or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle, while driving. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call/text blocking features.

Stay focused

Do not let anything divert your attention. Be sure to actively scan the road, use your mirrors, and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists. If you have passengers, enlist their help as a “designated texter.” Ask them to answer your calls, respond to texts and program the navigation.

In 2017, Texas passed a statewide ban on using a wireless communication device for electronic messaging while operating a motor vehicle. Texting, as well as reading or writing an email, is against the law while driving in Texas. Some local areas have additional ordinances pertaining to cell phone use while driving. It is the driver’s responsibility to learn the laws of their local areas.

For more information, visit AAA.com/dontdrivedistracted.

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