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Texas motorists using cell phones while driving up 8% in 2012 over prior year

According to crash data collected by the Texas Department of Transportation, to date there were 90,378 crashes in Texas in 2012 that involved distracted driving (distraction, driver inattention or cellphone use).

The Trucker News Services

4/10/2013

AUSTIN, Texas — It happens every day. A driver gets a text or a phone call and feels the need to respond immediately, even when though they are driving.

But what they may not know is a simple text or call can cost them their life or that of someone else.

"Distracted driving is unacceptable, and it's something that is preventable," John Barton, deputy executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation, said. "If you reply to or send a text while driving, you are putting your life or someone else's life at risk."

According to crash data collected by the Texas Department of Transportation, to date there were 90,378 crashes in Texas in 2012 that involved distracted driving (distraction, driver inattention or cellphone use).

That's an 8 percent increase from 2011. Of these crashes, 18,468 resulted in serious injuries and 453 resulted in deaths. From 2011 to 2012, there was a 9 percent increase in traffic fatalities caused by distracted driving on Texas roadways.

According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, almost half of all Texas drivers in 2012 admit to regularly or sometimes talking on the cell phone while driving. However, 84.9 percent of Texas drivers think driving while talking on a cell phone is a very serious or somewhat serious threat to their personal safety.

In another just-completed study, TTI researchers found that 10 percent of Texas drivers are using their cell phone at any point in time during the day.

The finding represents the first time that actual cell phone use by Texas drivers has been measured (rather than self-reported use), and was based on observations of drivers at 190 intersections in 22 counties across the state.

As part of the campaign, TxDOT is asking Texans to do their part by making a simple commitment to focus on driving when they get behind the wheel.

"Use of cell phones while driving isn't the only action that can lead to serious injury or death,” Barton said. “Other actions, such as reading the newspaper, eating or smoking while driving, are also distractions. Keeping drivers safe is our priority."

Although all the age groups are represented in the total number of traffic crashes caused by distracted driving, of the 90,378 traffic crashes in 2012 in Texas, the top two age groups are:

• 28,443 ages 16-24.

• 23,784 over the age of 45.

To learn more about the Talk. Text. Crash. campaign go to the TxDOT Facebook page at www.facebook.com/txdot.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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