AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The High Plains is heading in the wrong direction.

In 2021, TxDOT said its 17-county Amarillo District saw 1,163 distracted driving crashes, resulting in 28 serious injuries, and five deaths, a 17% increase over 2020.

“Distracted driving crashes are 100% preventable,” said Sonja Gross, TxDOT Amarillo District Public Information Officer. “What we need to do as drivers, is realize when we get behind the wheel of that vehicle, our number one job is to drive.”

It’s a fact of everyday life, the cell phone rings, or we’re in a rush to get somewhere like work, we want to listen to our favorite song or podcast, etc.

So much is happening in our vehicles today that can distract us from the most important part, driving.

“I know it’s hard because the technology is so convenient, but what’s not convenient is risking injury and death to you or somebody else, or to the people in your vehicle,” Gross said.

Gross told KAMR that even if you take your eyes off the road for just a second, it’s still too long.

“Many people don’t realize that when you look down at your phone for just a second, it’s usually five seconds, and in that time, if you’re traveling at 55 mph, you’ve driven the length of a football field,” she emphasized.

Gross told us that although cell phones are the most prevalent reason for distracted driving, other distractions include, “eating, putting on makeup, talking to other passengers in your car, pushing the dial on your radio, working the navigation system in your car,” she said.

Adding that convenience shouldn’t override safety.