Distracted Driving Top of Mind for Some Texas Lawmakers

DALLAS (WBAP/KLIF) – April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and authorities are reminding drivers to put away the distractions and stay focused on the road.

The Insurance Council of Texas said in a statement Tuesday that distracted driving remains a very serious problem on Texas roads. According to information from the Texas Department of Transportation, 1 in 5 crashes involve distracted driving. Discussions on distracted driving often focus on cell phone use, but by definition, distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving.

In 2017, according to TXDOT, 19 percent of vehicle crashes on Texas roads involved distracted driving.  Those 100,687 crashes resulted in 444 deaths and 2,889 serious injuries.  Similarly, according to information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,166 people were killed in distraction-affected crashes across the country.

Earlier this year, ICT reported that Texas traffic fatalities had declined by 4 percent in 2018, the first such decline since 2010. But despite the decline, Texas remains among the highest in the nation in the number of traffic fatalities and we need to do more to continue reducing this number. Throughout April, many ICT  member companies will be educating on the dangers of distracted driving, urging drivers to stay focused on the roads, and curb distracted driving habits.

Since September 1, 2017, Texas has had a statewide ban on the use of cell phones for reading or writing text messages or emails while driving.

“It is still too early to tell if the new law has changed driving habits, said Mark Hanna, ICT spokesperson. “But we are hopeful that the increased awareness of the issue will continue to lead to changes in driving behavior.”

Texas lawmakers continue to discuss the issue of cell phone use while driving. In the current 86th Texas legislative session, proposed legislation, Senate Bill 43, by Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo), would expand the ban on texting and driving to include all forms of hand-held cellphone use while driving.

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