The Texas Department of Transportation (DOT) has been keeping track of road accidents in the state since the turn of the century. Some grim statistics have been reported over the past two decades. For example, consider that an average of ten people are killed on Texas roads every day. Of course, Houston is no exception to the list of contributing cities.
One of the primary causes of these car crashes is distracted driving, a primary factor in 8.5% of all fatal car accidents. This is characterized by any activity that diverts your attention away from the road. There are three types of distraction:
- Visual (removing your eyes from the road)
- Manual (removing your hands from the wheel)
- Cognitive (removing your attention from the vehicle)
Common examples including texting, eating, speaking to passengers, and leaving work feeling stressed or exhausted. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were over 2,800 deaths and 400,000 injuries involving distracted drivers in the United States in 2018 alone.
Let’s take a closer look at the severity of the problem in Houston and what you can do to prevent distracted driving risks.
Understanding Distracted Driving
In just the Harris County and Houston areas, there were more than 12,000 distracted driving accidents in 2018. With all of the safety features of modern cars, how did motorists manage to reach this number?
To answer a text while driving, you need to bring your attention to your phone for roughly 4.6 seconds. This can be equated to covering an entire football field while blindfolded while traveling less than 60 miles per hour. One study found that 10% of drivers on Texas roads are on their phones at any given moment.
The study also found that voice-to-text features weren’t any safer than manually typing a message. Their performance was exactly the same with both methods. Moreover, drivers took twice as long to react when on their phones.
Measures Taken Against Distracted Driving
In light of these alarming statistics, campaigns such as Talk. Text. Crash. have been created in Texas to raise awareness around distracted driving. Network provider AT&T joined the crusade with its It Can Wait initiative. Both emphasize that teenagers and adult motorists are guilty of the act.
Distracted driving is defined by Texas state law as “any activity that takes your attention away from driving.” While drinking a milkshake and putting on makeup aren’t necessarily considered, texting while driving is prohibited. Penalties start at $25 and reach as high as $200 for additional offenses.
At the end of the day, the impact on your health, finances, and insurance rates is where the real losses will occur – not to mention the potential lawsuits.
How to Prevent Distracted Driving
The solutions are simple enough. Avoid multitasking, keep your phone out of reach, focus on the road, and use assistance such as voice input to interact with navigation systems. Parents should make their teen drivers aware of distracted driving and its consequences in addition to setting an example.
The prevalence of distracted driving in Houston can certainly be reduced. Playing your part will make all the difference.