Father Tells the Personal Price of Distracted Driving

Crashes caused by texting while driving change lives in the worst possible ways.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, one in five crashes in the state is caused by distracted driving, leading to 455 deaths and 3,000 serious injuries.

The number that may matter the most to James Shaffer is 13. That’s how old his daughter was when she died. The teen and her mother were traveling in Denton in April 2016 when an oncoming vehicle crashed into them.

"A woman in the other lane crossed over the center median and hit their car head-on, killing my wife and my daughter," Shaffer said. "The other driver killed herself and her daughter."

Police told Shaffer that other driver was texting.

"Seconds before the fatal accident, she had sent, received and reviewed a text she had just received," Shaffer said. "A text is simply not worth it to lose four lives."

He said it's hard to grasp that someone else's mistake took the lives of his wife and daughter.

"She hadn't had a chance to shine or grow or live her life," Shaffer said. "Life is fragile. It's very precious, especially that of a child."

Now he fights for education to stop distracted driving and he pushes for stronger laws.

"Those of us who have lost our children and our loved ones have fought so hard with local ordinances and at the state level to get laws passed [and] to get laws amended and to toughen up the restrictions," he said.

His ideal law would be a hands-free law across Texas.

Earlier this month, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a statewide ban on texting while driving into law.

Texas will become one of the last states to adopt some kind of texting while driving ban when the law takes effect Sept. 1.

Texting would be punishable by a fine of up to $99 for first-time offenders and $200 for repeat offenses.

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