Many drivers mistakenly believe that they are able to safely multitask when driving. They may check text messages, take phone calls, tend to children, sip coffee and engage in other distracting behaviors without realizing that they are putting their safety, their passengers’ safety and the safety of other motorists at risk.

In 2018, distracted driving caused over 95,000 traffic collisions in Texas. Of those collisions, about 400 people were killed and about 2,300 were seriously injured. Distracted driving may also be more prevalent in Houston than in other  cities in the country. However, most distracted driving collisions are preventable, and there are steps you can take as a driver to help reduce your risk of being involved in this type of collision.

What counts as driving distractions?

Texas law prohibits motorists from reading, writing or sending text messages or other electronic messages while driving. However, driving distractions extend beyond cell phone use. Any activity that takes the driver’s eyes of the road, hands off the steering wheel or mind off driving can be a dangerous driving distraction.

By avoiding distractions as you drive, you will not only be compliant with the law, but you can greatly reduce your risk of being in a collision. Because different distractions tempt each individual driver, it may be impossible to include a comprehensive list of ways to prevent distracted driving. However, a few ways to prevent becoming distracted, include:

  • Securing your phone out of reach before driving
  • Selecting your music before you begin driving
  • Adjusting your temperature controls before driving
  • Getting up early enough finish personal grooming at home
  • Eating a meal before driving
  • Parking safely before caring for children in the car

How can I avoid distracted drivers on the road?

Unfortunately, with so many distracted drivers on the road, it is not always enough to avoid distractions yourself. It may be necessary to take additional precautions, like staying away from other motorists who are distracted. However, identifying distracted drivers can be more challenging than you might think.

Sometimes when you are driving near another vehicle, you can clearly see through the vehicle’s window that the driver is distracted. You might see someone eating, drinking, talking on the phone, looking down at a phone, applying makeup, reaching into the backseat, caring for children or other distracting activities. However, when you are close enough to see that a driver is distracted, you may already be too close to avoid an impending collision.

When possible, try to keep your distance from any vehicle that seems to exhibit signs of dangerous, and potentially distracted, driving. Some signs to look for include:

  • Drifting from the lane
  • Swerving
  • Running stop signs
  • Stopping longer than needed at stop signs and traffic signals
  • Tailgating
  • Driving much slower than the flow of traffic

By making sure you are not a part of the problem and staying clear of drivers who are, you can minimize your risk of being in a distracted driving collision. However, if you or a loved one is injured because of another driver’s reckless actions, it may be appropriate to seek justice. Every driver has a responsibility to drive safely, and no one should suffer because of another person’s dangerous behaviors.