The pain of losing a child to distracted driving is all too real for Mike Myers. In 2014, his 18-year-old daughter, Elana, was tragically killed in a single-vehicle crash while driving distracted on her way home from college.
“If Elana’s death has any purpose, I hope that it teaches others the dangers of driving while distracted,” Myers said. “I dream that there was a way to hit the rewind button so she could learn the lesson without having to pay the price.”
With more than 100,000 statewide traffic crashes involving distracted driving each year, the Texas Department of Transportation is hoping Elana’s story will reach more people and reduce crashes. In April, TxDOT kicks off its annual “Talk, Text, Crash” campaign that urges drivers to put away cell phones, avoid distractions and give the road their full attention. TxDOT’s safety campaign coincides with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April.
“Last year, driver distractions killed 463 Texans and seriously injured another 3,076 Texans,” said Texas Transportation Commissioner Jeff Moseley. “Texans are dying on our roads simply because some drivers cannot wait until they’re stopped to check their email or make a phone call. That one text, post or phone call is not worth injuring or killing yourself, or someone else.”
In 2015, Texas had 103,576 traffic crashes related to distraction – an increase of 3 percent from 2014. Distracted driving-related crashes are highest among younger drivers ages 16 to 34.
The “Talk, Text, Crash” campaign reminds drivers to wait until later to talk or text. While mobile phone use is the most recognized driving distraction, TxDOT also urges drivers to avoid the following high-risk, behind-the-wheel activities:
• Posting to social media
• Checking email
• Programming a navigation system
• Watching a video
• Adjusting a radio, CD player or other audio devices
Any type of behavior that draws a driver’s attention away from the road is dangerous.