ATLANTA – A family’s quiet Sunday in the park turned tragic when a driver, distracted while talking on her cell phone, struck two-year-old Allie White in a parking lot, killing her. The toddler became one of more than a thousand Texas lives lost due to distracted driving in the past few years, and it’s part of a disturbing trend that continued last year.
Distracted driving deaths increased 17% in 2021 compared to 2020, claiming the lives of 431 people and seriously injuring another 2,934. In light of these grim statistics, TxDOT is conducting its annual Talk. Text. Crash. campaign during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April to urge Texans to keep their heads up, put their phones down and just drive.
The number of motor vehicle traffic crashes in the Atlanta District in 2021 that involved distracted driving (distraction, driver inattention or cell phone use) totaled 1,093. These crashes resulted in 17 deaths and 58 serious injuries.
In Texarkana in 2021, there were 139 traffic crashes that involved distracted driving, resulting in 6 serious injuries.
“Distracted driving crashes are 100% preventable, and we’re urging everyone to just drive whenever they’re behind the wheel,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “Texans are killed each year simply because someone was distracted by their phone, radio, navigation system, eating or drinking, or even by others in the car. When your focus isn’t on driving, you’re putting yourself, your passengers and everyone else on the road at risk.”
Distracted driving is not only dangerous, it’s a crime. Since September 1, 2017, it has been illegal to read, write or send a text while driving in Texas, and violators can face a fine of up to $200.
TxDOT offers these tips to prevent distracted driving that can lead to a ticket or preventable crash:
- Always give driving your full attention; remember that any distraction is dangerous.
- Pull off the road entirely and come to a complete stop before you talk on your phone 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 coworkers you won’t respond to texts or calls while driving.
TxDOT is also relaunching its web-based augmented reality game “Dart Those Distractions” to reinforce the importance of paying attention behind the wheel.