TxDOT is launching an awareness campaign today to remind Texans to put their phones down and give driving their full attention whenever they are behind the wheel in honor of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
According to TxDOT, Texas roadways saw nearly one in five crashes caused by a distracted driver in which 364 people died and 2,200 were seriously injured last year.
TxDOT's web-based augmented reality game "Dart Those Distractions" aims to reinforce the importance of paying attention behind the wheel, TxDOT said.
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The game is designed to be played on a smart phone or tablet (but not while driving), and it increases awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.
According to TxDOT, the game challenges players to throw darts at balloons that symbolize driving distractions, such as eating, grooming, programming music or checking a navigation system.
TxDOT said dangerous distractions include any activity that diverts the driver's attention away from safely operating a vehicle.
Research shows that whether a driver uses a voice-to-text program, a hands-free device, or a handheld one, the distraction will affect the driver's ability to drive safely, TxDOT said.
Reading, writing, or sending a text has been illegal while driving in Texas since Sept. 1, 2017. Violators can face a fine up to $200.
TxDOT's new campaign is offers tips to prevent distracted driving that can lead to a ticket or a crash:
- Always give driving your full attention.
- Pull off the road entirely and come to a complete stop before you talk or text.
- Put your phone away, turn it off, or use an app or your phone settings to block texts and calls while driving.
- Tell friends, family and co-workers you won't respond to texts or calls while driving.
- Remember that all distractions are dangerous, so pay full attention when behind the wheel.
"A serious or fatal crash can happen in an instant," TxDOT Executive Director James Bass said. "If you're distracted by your phone, or doing anything else that takes your focus away from driving, you're putting yourself, your passengers and everyone else on the road at risk. Distracted driving crashes are 100 percent preventable. Driving should be your number one priority behind the wheel - everything else can wait."