Ride along with a parcel delivery driver for a day, and you'll soon realize that the most frustrating part of the job isn't hefting heavy packages, navigating clogged streets, or meeting ultra-tight delivery schedules. It's having to share the road with civilians whose eyes are on their cellphones, not the traffic around them.
Now, one of the country's biggest states has launched a campaign aimed at cracking down on the problem. Timed to coincide with National Distracted Driving Month in April, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) rolled out its "Heads up, Texas" program in partnership with telecom giant AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign. The centerpiece of the program was a 19-city tour that brought a harrowing distracted driving VR (virtual reality) experience to area residents.
As for what's behind the initiative, Texas transportation officials say distracted driving caused nearly one in five crashes in the state in 2017. Those 100,687 crashes resulted in 444 deaths and 2,889 serious injuries, according to a TxDOT press release. To put some teeth into its enforcement efforts, the state recently passed a texting-while-driving ban that makes it illegal to read, write, or send a text while driving in Texas, with violations punishable by a $200 fine.
"It's extremely concerning that drivers still choose to give their attention to things other than the road when they're behind the wheel," said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass in a statement. "As a society, we're more connected than ever to our devices and easily tempted to multitask, but drivers need to understand all of these various distractions can lead to a tragic outcome."