The Texas Department of Transportation is rolling out a new campaign to combat distracted driving. Statistics show one in four crashes involve drivers who are not paying attention.
Over the next month you will probably see the words "Talk, Text, Crash" on signs on the South Loop, all in hopes of keeping you safe on the road.
"It's trying to get the great people of this state to limit their distractions," TxDOT Traffic Safety Coordinator Karen Peoples explained. TxDOT plans to showcase the new campaign Wednesday in Austin on the steps of the capitol.
TxDOT statistics show that distracted driving contributes to a startling number of accidents. More than 100,000 vehicles were involved in crashes in 2009 where distractions or cell phone use were cited as a cause. That same year, 3,308 crashes were attributed to cell phone use and 41 of those were fatal.
Distracted driving also includes talking, eating, smoking, switching radio stations and even reaching for something else in the vehicle. The campaign which kicks of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month will focus on cell phones because it is one of the most commonly recognized distractions.
A number of teens have been killed in recent years using mobile phones while driving, Peoples said, and these tragedies have captured the nation's attention. One of those tragedies is the 2009 death of Alex Brown, a Seagraves teenager who crashed her truck on the way to school while trying to get a text message.
In Texas, 46 percent of teens in cities talk on cell phones and 42 percent text behind the wheel. In rural areas, those numbers increase slightly, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
"Whenever you are behind the wheel, make it a number one priority to arrive at your destination," Peoples said.
TxDOT will use social media and radio PSAs to spread the message during this campaign. While April is dedicated to preventing distracted driving, TxDOT hopes that it is something people will simply stop doing.
Families of those who have died in distracted driving accidents will be at the state capitol Wednesday to kick off the campaign. The parents of Alex Brown were also invited to attend, but they will be in Nebraska spreading the no-texting-while-driving message to students.
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