AUSTIN (KXAN) — During the day, more than 350,000 drivers are actively holding a cell phone to their ear while driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association.
“It is really important that we realize texting while driving can increase your odds of getting into a crash by six times,” said Tricia Morrow, the Global Vehicle Safety Strategy Manager at General Motors.
GM is partnering with the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) to raise awareness for Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
The Texas Department of Transportation defines distracted driving as activity that takes your attention away from driving. Some advocates said distracted driving includes driving while stressed or agitated.
“Research from Virginia Tech found driving in an agitated and emotional state can make you 9.8 times more likely to get into a crash. So, I believe that the educational aspect of this is very important,” said Morrow.
“We have to recognize no, we can’t do it. It’s cognitively distracting. Driving is a cognitive activity. Using your phone is a cognitive activity. You can’t do those things at the same time. Your brain is not wired to do that,” said Pam Shadel Fischer with the GHSA.
In 2020, TxDOT found nearly one in five crashes on Texas roads were caused by a distracted driver, 367 people died and 2,205 were seriously injured as a result.
“Anything can happen, so if you are not 100% there mentally or emotionally, it’s going to have an impact on your ability to react,” said Fischer.