Amarillo, Texas -
This is the first time the U.S. Department of Transportation has really focused a campaign on distracted driving. The Secretary of Transportation says it puts distracted driving in the same category as enforcing seat belt use and fighting drunk driving.
And there's a reason for it, with hundreds of thousands of people injured every year in distracted driving crashes.
In fact, DOT numbers say in 2012 -- the latest year that statistics are available, 421,000 people were injured in crashes which involved a distracted driver -- more than 3,000 people were killed.
And those can be crashes that happen when people think they can do more behind the wheel than they should. Distractions include things like texting, using a cell phone, eating, drinking, reading maps, using a navigation system, adjusting a radio, even talking to someone else in your vehicle.
The DOT is rolling out an advertising campaign to draw attention to distracted driving, and at the same time, next week law enforcers in states with distracted driver laws will be focusing on enforcing those laws.
Here's how a quick diversion can have long-term impact: The DOT says if you text, you take your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds. At 55 miles per hour that's enough time to drive the length of a football field.
And how many people can't put down the phone? The DOT says at any given daylight moment about 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or electronic devices while they are driving.
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