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Distracted driving crashes increase in Texas
BEAUMONT - by Lauren Huet
Texting and driving is just one form of distracted driving.
"Everybody does it. If anybody says they don't do it they're lying," said college student Dakota Rowley.
"I've only done it a couple of times. I try to limit myself and put my cell phone in the back seat," said college student Juan Rodriguez.
The Texas Department of Transportation says distracted driving is anything that draws your attention away from driving.
"Eating and driving is distracted driving, talking on your cell phone, texting on your cell phone, checking your email, checking facebook, having an animal in the front seat with you. That's all distracted driving," said TxDOT Public Information Officer Sarah Dupre.
In 2013, in TxDOT's eight county Beaumont District (Chambers, Hardin, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Newton, Orange, and Tyler County), 1,452 car crashes involved distracted driving. Fourteen people died.
TxDOT says distracted driving crashes increased by four percent in Texas last year. In 2013, there were 94,943 crashes involving distracted driving, and 459 people died as a result. Most of the drivers involved in distracted driving crashes last year were 45 years and older. The next largest group was 16 to 24 year olds.
"It can happen to anybody and every single person needs to have completely 100 percent of their attention on the roadway," said Dupre.
Anything less, says Dupre, can prove deadly.
"It only takes a second to have a crash. It only takes a second from being distracted from your phone. It only takes a second from the drink you're trying to grab from your cupholder," said Dupre.
A message TxDOT hopes reaches drivers this April, which is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the beginning of TxDOT's annual Talk, Text, Crash campaign.