AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Amarillo saw 607 traffic crashes involving distracted driving (distraction, driver inattention or cellphone use) in 2020. These crashes resulted in three deaths and 22 serious injuries, according to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
TxDOT officials said distracted driving remains near the top of the list when it comes to crashes on Texas roadways, as it ranks No. 2 for traffic-related crash causes. Almost 1 in 5 crashes on Texas roadways last year was caused by a distracted driver resulting in 364 deaths and 2,200 people being seriously injured.
According to a release, April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and TxDOT reminds all Texans to put their phones down give driving their undivided attention whenever they are behind the wheel.
“A serious or fatal crash can happen in an instant,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “If you’re distracted by your phone, or doing anything else that takes your focus away from driving, you’re putting yourself, your passengers and everyone else on the road at risk.”
TxDOT added that distractions include any activity that takes the driver’s attention away from safely operating a vehicle. Research shows that even when a driver chooses to use a voice-to-text feature, hands-free device or a handheld one, the distraction will affect the driver’s ability to drive safely.
“Distracted driving crashes are 100 percent preventable. Driving should be your number one priority behind the wheel – everything else can wait,” Bass said.
TxDOT officials stated that it has been illegal to read, write or send a text while driving in Texas since September 1, 2017. If caught, violators can face a fine up to $200.
TxDOT offered the following tips to prevent distracted driving:
- Always give driving your full attention.
- Pull off the road entirely and come to a complete stop before you talk or text.
- Put your phone away, turn it off, or use an app or your phone settings to block texts and calls while driving.
- Tell friends, family and co-workers you won’t respond to texts or calls while driving.
- Remember that all distractions are dangerous, so pay full attention when behind the wheel.
TxDOT said its distracted driving awareness campaign is key component of its social media and word-of-mouth outreach effort #EndTheStreakTX, which encourages drivers to make safer choices behind the wheel.
For more safe driving information and tips, including how to #EndTheStreakTX, click here.
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