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HOUSTON – In the new age of social media and other distractions, a number of drivers are distracted with their cell units instead of specializing in the highway. With the new distractions, TxDOT finds that distracted driving deaths increased 17% in 2021 compared to 2020.

Distracted driving fatalities have already claimed the lives of 431 people and seriously injured 2,934 others.

Once these statistics became clear, TxDOT carried out its annual report Speak. Text. Accident. campaign during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April to help Texans stay focused on the roads by lowering their cell phones.

“Distracted driving accidents are 100% preventable, and we urge everyone to drive while behind the wheel,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “Texans are killed every year simply because someone was distracted by their phone, radio, navigation system, eating or drinking, or even other people in the car. When you’re not concentrating not on driving, you are putting yourself, your passengers and everyone else on the road at risk.

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As of September 1, 2017, it is illegal to learn, write, or send textual content while driving in Texas, and violators can face a fine of up to $200.

TxDOT offers these following ideas for stopping distracted driving that can lead to a ticket or preventable accident:

  • Always give your full attention to driving; remember that any distraction is harmful.

  • Get off the freeway completely and be available for a full stop before you speak into your cell phone or text content.

  • Put your cell phone away, turn it off, or use an app or your cell phone settings to block text messages and calls while driving.

  • Tell your friends, family, and co-workers that you don’t answer text messages or calls while you’re driving.

TxDOT will hold several events in Texas as part of its publicity campaign which will include an immersive TV wall with a contactless driving simulator to give members a real feel for the effect distractions have on driving. There may even be ideas and information that will help remind everyone to give their full attention to driving.

TxDOT will host an event in Houston on April 23.

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