WICHITA FALLS, TX
Talk. Text. Crash. The Texas Department of Transportation wants to make its message clear - distracted driving can be deadly.
Their safety campaign coincides with April's national Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The Texas Department of Transportation is traveling around the state spreading the message about the dangers of texting and driving.
There are over 100 thousand crashes in Texas each year involving distracted driving. Last year, driver distractions killed over four hundred Texans and injured another three thousand. Thirteen percent of drivers in crashes ages 18-20 admitted to texting or talking on the phone.
Transportation officials say five seconds is the average time a person’s eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling fifty five miles per hour that's enough time to cover the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
Department of Public Safety officials say distracted driving is now one of the top reasons for fatal accidents.
“Statistics show that distracted driving now joins speed and alcohol as a leading cause of serious and fatal accidents in Texas.”
Many states have handheld cellphone and texting bans, but not all. In Wichita Falls the only cell phone free areas are in school zones.Texas does not have a statewide law banning the use of cell phones while driving.
Department of Public Safety officials say for the last three legislative sessions, legislators and senators have tried to push a bill through to get some sort of texting or cell phone ban that would blanket the entire state but they have not been successful.
Although there is no blanket law for Texas, cities are able to pass an ordinance banning talking and texting while driving. Nearly 40 cities in Texas have adopted ordinances since 2009 when Austin became the first to enact a citywide ban on texting while driving. TxDOT officials say they can't lobby for any bill. To get cell phone and texting bans passed into law the public needs to speak to their legislators and senators.