Distracted driving deaths increased 10% in 2022
AUSTIN – Distracted driving is on the rise in Texas, and TxDOT is urging all Texans to pay attention on the road.
In an instant, Karin Zaltsman of San Antonio lost her teenaged daughter in a 2017 crash when a driver made the decision to take his eyes off the road to text while driving. TxDOT is sharing the Zaltsman family’s story of losing 13-year-old Emily as part of its “Talk. Text. Crash.” distracted driving awareness campaign this month, to remind Texans to keep their eyes up and phones down while driving.
Described as kind, funny, smart and driven, Emily had her whole life ahead of her, but one driver’s decision to text and drive cut her life short.
“Emily didn’t die in an accident,” said Karin Zaltsman of her late daughter. “Emily died in a crash that could have been prevented.”
Emily is one of more than 2,000 people killed on Texas roadways due to distracted drivers since 2017. Disturbingly, distracted driving deaths increased by 10% in the Lone Star State in 2022. Approximately one of every six crashes on Texas roadways last year was attributed to distracted driving.
“Distracted driving is a choice, and it has devastating consequences for communities,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “Texting, adjusting audio or navigation systems, or scrolling on a social media site can wait until you’re safely parked. We’re urging Texans to make the right choice and put the phone away.”
Texting while driving is not only incredibly dangerous, it’s a crime. Since Sept. 1, 2017, it has been illegal to read, write or send a text while driving in Texas, and violators can face a fine of up to $200.
Distracted driving crashes are 100% preventable. TxDOT offers these tips to help drivers steer clear of a potentially deadly situation:
- Always give driving your full attention—any distraction is dangerous.
- Put your phone away, turn it off or use an app or phone settings to block texts and calls while driving.
- Pull off the road entirely and come to a complete stop before you use your phone.
- Tell friends, family and coworkers you won’t respond to texts or calls while driving.
- Avoid eating or drinking until you are parked.
TxDOT’s “Talk. Text. Crash.” distracted driving awareness campaign is a key component of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel to help end the streak of daily deaths. Nov. 7, 2000, was the last deathless day on Texas roadways.
The information presented represents reportable data collected from the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (CR-3). It was received and processed by the department as of January 31, 2023.
The Texas Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining 80,000 miles of road and for supporting aviation, maritime, rail and public transportation across the state.
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