Distracted driving is one the most common causes of car accidents throughout the U.S., including Texas. It is a significant problem that results in collisions, injuries, and fatalities every single year. However, many people don’t know what exactly counts as distracted driving and why it can be so deadly.

Here is everything you need to know about distracted driving in the Lone Star State and what the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is currently doing to combat the issue.

Distracted Driving Is a Leading Cause of Auto Collisions

A distraction while driving is anything that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the steering wheel, or mind off the task at hand. While many drivers believe they can multitask and still drive carefully, the statistics say otherwise.

In one recent year, more than 420,000 individuals suffered injuries in accidents involving a distracted driver. Fatalities are common as well, unfortunately. Every year around the U.S., thousands of individuals die in accidents caused by distracted driving.

Drivers of any age can drive distractedly, but certain groups are more at risk, including teens and young adults. Among recent fatal crashes involving driver distractions, 9% of drivers ages 15 to 20 were distracted at the time of their accidents—a higher percentage compared to drivers 21 and up.

While it’s not always easy to avoid distractions, it is vital to do what you can to keep your eyes—and focus—on the road at all times. Avoiding distracted driving can have a substantial impact on minimizing unnecessary traffic accidents.

Key Statistics for Distracted Driving in Texas

Like other parts of the country, distracted driving is a serious issue in Texas. Take a closer look at these key statistics concerning distracted driving in Texas:

Injuries and Fatalities From 2012 to 2021

From 2012 to 2021, the Texas Open Data Portal shows that more people were hurt or killed in accidents involving distracted driving than any other cause, including alcohol- and speeding-related incidents. They peaked in 2016, with 14,466 distracted driving-related deaths and injuries, and reached a low point of 9,938 during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Statistics on Distracted Driving Injury Statistics in Texas

One of the Leading Causes of Traffic Crashes

TxDOT reports that distracted driving is the second-leading cause of traffic collisions in Texas, with one of five crashes caused by the problem in a recent year.

Distracted Driving Contributing Factors

With distracted driving such a prominent cause of car accidents, knowing what you can do to avoid these behaviors is crucial. There are several different types of driver distractions, including:

  • Cognitive Distractions: Distractions that take your mind away from driving, including daydreaming, fatigue, and emotions
  • Visual Distractions: Distractions that take your eyes off the road, such as texting, changing the song on the radio, or looking for a fallen item
  • Manual Distractions: Distractions that take your hands off the wheel, including eating, grooming, and smoking

In Texas, data from 2012 to 2021 show that driver inattention is the leading type of distraction. Driver inattention is a cognitive distraction, where a driver’s mind is somewhere else.

Driver inattention not only puts the driver at risk, but also passengers and others on the road. For example, when a driver is operating their vehicle inattentively, they may not notice cars in front of them braking suddenly, causing a rear-end collision.

Along with driver inattention, other contributing factors resulting in distracted driving accidents in Texas include general distractions inside the vehicle and cell phone use, including talking and texting.

With the increase in cell phones has come an increase in auto collisions as well. Drivers often can’t help but use their phones behind the wheel, leading to accidents, injuries, and even deaths.

Even just taking your eyes off the road for a moment can have detrimental results. At 55 miles per hour, taking your eyes off the road for just five seconds is long enough to drive the entire length of a football field—and a lot can happen in such a short time.

What TxDOT Is Doing About the Issue

TxDOT is currently taking steps to combat the problem of distracted driving in the state in hopes of reducing the number of collisions and tragedies that can happen as a result.

Since 2017, TxDOT has made it illegal to text and drive, including reading, drafting, and sending text messages. Violation of the law is a misdemeanor, and offenders could face expensive fines.

TxDOT has also taken a special interest in campaigning, creating awareness, and educating Texans on the dangers of texting and driving, especially during April, which is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

TxDOT’s “Talk. Text. Crash.” campaign directly addresses and aims to discourage all types of distracted driving in hopes of saving lives. Along with helpful information, the Department of Transportation offers tips to prevent distracted driving, including always giving driving full attention and pulling off the road to talk or text.

Taking Action After a Crash Caused by Distracted Driving

Avoiding driving while distracted can help keep you and others safe on the road. Sometimes, however, even when you engage in safe driving, another driver’s careless actions can cause you to suffer an accident. This is where a qualified car accident lawyer comes in.

An attorney can investigate the circumstances of your crash and advocate on your behalf to hold the other driver accountable for the injuries and losses they caused you. If suspect distracted driving was a factor in your accident, it is important to seek legal guidance as soon as possible.