As I mentioned earlier this week, April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. And last Wednesday the Texas Department of Transportation kicked off their April efforts with a rally on the steps of the state Capitol and a terrific new safe driving campaign called "Talk. Text. Crash."
Click here to listen to one of Texas DOT's new radio public service ads
As Texas DOT Traffic Safety Coordinator Karen Peoples said, "We're trying to get the great people of our state to limit their distractions. Whenever you're behind the wheel, make arriving safely at your destination your number one priority."
The rally featured several family members speaking on behalf of 12 loved ones who have been killed in distracted driving crashes. One of the victims remembered last week was Alex Brown, whose tragic story is featured in our "Faces of Distracted Driving" series.
Another of the speakers, Jennifer Smith, is the founder of FocusDriven, a national advocacy group working to end distracted driving. The story of Jennifer's mother, Linda Doyle, will also be featured in an upcoming "Faces of Distracted Driving" video.
The bold public education campaign to encourage Texans to put down their cell phones while driving is built around a simple message: "You talk, you text; you crash."
More than one of the victims remembered last week was killed when a driver had hundreds of feet of visibility ahead, did not see a stop sign or red light, and plowed directly into another vehicle without ever even tapping the brakes. Several others were killed when a distracted driver crossed into their lane and struck their vehicle head-on, again without braking.
The crash statistics from Texas also demonstrate this danger. Nearly one in every four Texas crashes involves driver distraction. In 2009 alone, over 100,000 vehicles in Texas were involved in crashes where driver distraction was cited. Sadly, 408 of those crashes were fatal.
I welcome the efforts of the Texas DOT. I thank all of the speakers who bravely told their stories last week. And I urge everyone--whether you're behind the wheel in Texas or anywhere else--to hang up and drive safely.