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National Distracted Driving Awareness is observed this month

April is the month to highlight awareness of distracted driving across the country.
The House and Senate have both passed on House Bill 62 to the desk of Governor Gregg Abbott for final approval. If signed the statewide ban on texting and driving would go into effect Sept. 1.

April is a month for people to reflect on the importance of safe driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says distracted driving is dangerous claiming 3,142 lives in 2019, which is 10% more than 2018. 

Experts say distracted driving accidents occur from drivers simply not paying attention. Throughout the past 10 years with the advancement of technology, distracted driving has been seen more and more, causing more injuries and deaths around the world. 

NHTSA describes distracted driving as any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.

Angelo Driving Academy owner Luther Pittman described the four types of distracted driving and what he teaches in his classes to prevent them from doing it. 

“There are four types of distracted driving. Visual -  not looking at the road; Auditory - hearing something other than driving; Manual - using something other than the wheel while driving; and Cognitive - thinking about something other than driving. These four things are what cause the common car accident and possible injuries or death. To prevent doing these four things make sure to mentally prepare yourself before getting on the road and always be cautious of what you and others are doing while driving,” Pittman said. 

To help with distracted driving, a mobility technology company "Magna" launched a program that detects and predicts when people behind the wheel are distracted. It utilizes proven camera-based technology to monitor the driver’s head, eye and body movement to detect distracted behavior, drowsiness and fatigue. 

In addition, the technology accounts for normal driving actions, such as looking in the side-view mirrors. If distracted behavior is detected, the driver is alerted through customizable audible or visual notifications.

In 2019, Texans behind the wheel resulted in 377 deaths and 2,500 injuries on the road, according to TxDOT. 

American Automobile Association (AAA) is holding a free virtual distracted driving summit to have a discussion on educational and legislative strategies 10 a.m. to noon Friday, April 9 to help reduce distracted driving.