The Texas Department of Public Safety is stepping up patrols and increasing traffic enforcement across the state for the Fourth of July holiday.
Nearly three million people are expected to travel across Texas for the holiday, and extra troopers will be on the roads enforcing the laws – plus looking out for people using cell phones behind the wheel.
“It happens all the time. Both regular crashes, injuries and fatalities. We’ve worked them all. Unfortunately that’s on the rise,” says DPS Sgt. David Roberts.
Statistics show you are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash if you are not focused on the road. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 19 percent of crashes last year were a result of distracted driving – causing nearly 500 deaths.
“If you’re going down that road way at 75 miles per hour, to send and receive a text is going to take you up to five seconds. In that period of time, your vehicle will have traveled approximately two football fields in length,” Roberts said. “While sending and receiving that text, you’re not watching what you’re doing. That’s a long ways to go without watching what you’re doing,” Robert said.
While it may seem safer than texting, Roberts says using your Bluetooth to answer calls isn’t as safe as you think, even though it’s hands-free.
“That’s not illegal, but it’s also still dangerous because it’s not your physical manipulation of the device. It’s the mindset. Your taking your mind off the highway,” he said.
Roberts also warns against relying on phone holders if you are having to touch the display screen. A better option might be using a smart phone app which sends auto-reply text or just not using the phone at all.
“It’s much more safe. By all means, if you have the opportunity to not use the phone while you’re operating the vehicle, please don’t do so,” Roberts said.
If you’re pulled over for texting and driving, DPS troopers say you could get an up to a $200 fine. Troopers will also be looking out for DWIs, speeding and seat belt violations.