While Texas residents probably know that drunk driving is a common problem in the state, recent statistics indicate that distracted driving is a significant concern as well. Most distracted driving accidents occur because drivers are texting or looking at their cell phone screens. There are other potential distractions as well, such as eating, grooming and interacting with passengers, that may lead to a car accident. While it may seem that distracted driving is less risky than some other behaviors, it is often just as dangerous as drunk or aggressive driving.
A concerning report from Texas Monthly indicates that distracted driving is particularly frequent in some Texas metropolitan areas. In fact, statistics show that Houston and Dallas were the top cities in the nation in terms of distracted driving. In both cities, data shows that drivers in the area used their phones over 9% of the time that they were behind the wheel. Austin also showed a high frequency of distracted driving, with drivers being on their phones nearly 8% of the time. Data from 2016 shows that distracted driving caused 3,450 fatal accidents nationwide, indicating that this behavior often has serious consequences.
Texting while driving has been illegal in Texas since September of 2017. Current laws prohibit drivers from reading, composing or sending text messages while driving. The Texas Department of Transportation created the "Talk, Text, Crash" and "Heads Up, Texas" campaigns to increase public awareness of the risks of distracted driving. TxDOT uses educational materials, paid advertising, social media influencer programming and community outreach events to make residents aware of the risks of texting and driving. Drivers may help keep themselves and others safe by pulling over before using a cell phone and refraining from all distracting activities while behind the wheel.