Multi-tasking while behind the wheel may distract drivers and contribute to motor vehicle accidents that leave them or others seriously injured. Although Texas enacted a law in 2017 prohibiting drivers from writing, reading or sending messages using mobile devices, distracted driving remains a serious problem across the state. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, distracted drivers caused 95,572 collisions in 2018, which resulted in 2,340 serious injuries and 394 deaths.
Distracting activities take people’s attention off the task of driving. Driver distractions may include talking on a cellphone, eating or drinking, texting or reading, or adjusting the navigation system or radio. Engaging in such distracting activities may affect people’s ability to operate their vehicles. One out of every five motor vehicle accidents occurring in the state involves some type of distraction.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, texting behind the wheel combines the three main types of distraction – cognitive, manual and visual. In addition to taking people’s minds off the task of driving and hands off the wheel, texting also takes drivers’ eyes off the road. Motorists traveling at 55 mph may drive the length of a football field without their eyes on the road when reading or sending a text message.
Anyone who engages in activities that divert their attention from operating their vehicles may become a distracted driver. However, data shows those under the age of 20-years-old have the highest involvement in fatal distracted driving accidents. Many teens engage in distracting activities while driving, with 42% of the high school students in a 2017 survey who drove within the last month reporting they had texted or e-mailed while behind the wheel.