TxDOT launches campaign to discourage distracted driving

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

ABILENE, Texas - With April being "National Distracted Driving Awareness Month," the Texas Department of Transportation is launching a new campaign to keep drivers focused on the streets and not their screens.

From 2011 to 2012 there was a nine-percent increase of traffic fatalities in Texas that involved distracted driving.

According to records, 90,378 crashes in Texas in 2012 involved driver distraction. Of those crashes, 28,443 were by drivers ages 16 to 24, and 23,784 were by drivers over the age of 45.

TxDOT hopes their campaign "Talk.Text.Crash" will change that.

We asked Abilene residents if they text or talk on their phones while driving.

"Sometimes. I'm not gonna lie," said one woman.

"Sometimes I do," said a local college student.

Texting takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that is equivalent to driving the length of an entire football field … blind.

"Somebody's got to be driving the car and unfortunately if you're distracted from driving bad things can and do happen," State Police spokesman Sparky Dean said.

In 2012, almost half of all Texas drivers admitted to regularly talking on the phone while driving.

Ten percent of Texas drivers are using their cell phones at any given point in time.

"When we have that opportunity for a text driving the car, I don't think people stop to think, wait, driving is more important," Dean said.

Dean said stopping to think could mean saving a life.

"We're handling some fatalities because of distracted driving," he said. "When you're driving that's all you need to do."

Through the month of April, TxDOT will host events and run ads to make Texas drivers more aware of the dangers of distracted driving.

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