CALL 713.222.TIPS (8477)

Sunday Mornings with Rania: Distracted Driving

Everyone knows I have three kids. I probably talk about them and share stories of their lives more than I should.

People with children understand. The love we have for our children drives us, shapes our vision, our decisions and our plans. The love for our children keeps us up at night; the loss of a child is every parent’s worst nightmare.

It is a parent’s love that made my heart break when I read of the tragic, senseless deaths of sisters Jade (age 17) and Brianna Robinson (age 19) , their mother’s only children.

The cause of death: distracted driving. They were wearing their seatbelts but the driver was distracted, looking at her GPS for directions according to investigators, and lost control of the car while on a road trip from Corpus Christi back to Houston.

Sadly, the Robinson sisters are now amongst a growing group of teens who have lost their lives while in a vehicle. How much do you know about distracted driving? Take a moment to read the stats and talk to your kids today:

  • Over 2.5 million people in the United States are involved in car accidents each year. 40,000 lose their lives. 421,000 are injured.
  • Of these car accidents, 1.6 million or 64 percent, involve a cell phone.
  • 78 percent of all distracted drivers are distracted because of texting. Texting while driving results in 330,000 accidents yearly.
  • Of all the teenagers involved in fatal accidents annually, 21 percent were using a cell phone at the time of the accident.
  • A study at the University of Utah found that the reaction time for a teen using a cell phone is the same as that of a 70 year old who isn’t using one.
  • Teens are mostly distracted due to texting while driving.
  • Texting while driving is 6 times more likely to get you in an accident than drunk driving.
  • The chances of getting into a crash while texting increase 23 times; teen drivers have a 400 percent higher chance of being in an accident due to texting and driving than an adult.
  • At an average speed of 55 miles an hour and considering an average text takes 5 seconds to compose, the distance travelled while distracted will be the length of a football field.
  • 94 percent of teenagers understand the consequences of texting and driving, but 35 percent admit to texting anyway.

See more on distracted driving here. 

The stats are surprising and important. Please take a moment to remind your kids:

  • According to Texas law, driver under the age of 18 are not allowed to use a cell phone while driving. This means NO calls; NO hands-free calls; NO texting. It means pulling over and putting the car in park before taking out a cell phone for any reason at all.
  • Texas law also states that “learners permit” holders (even over the age of 18) are prohibited from using handheld cell phones in the first six months of driving.
  • For adult drivers: Texas is 1 of 6 states that has yet to enact a state-wide ban on texting and talking while driving. To date: 40 Texas cities and towns have done just that, but not Houston! This means, adult drivers in Houston can still text or talk on their phones while driving. But, of course, no one – adult or teen – should be distracted while driving.
  • If you need to use GPS, put the address in while you are not driving, turn the volume all the way up and go by the voice commands. If you need to study the map, pull over.
  • If you have a friend in the car, let them send an urgent text or make an urgent phone call.
  • There are apps to minimize distractions, such as the It Can Wait app. This app silences incoming text message alerts and sends an auto-reply to senders.

We love our children and we love yours too. Let’s all do what we can to keep them safe on the road. Talk to them, put the cell phones away and drive safely for all our sakes.

Our hearts go out to the Robinson family and to all those affected by this tragedy.

Posted by Rania Mankarious on 3 Apr 2016

About the author

Executive Director of Crime Stoppers of Houston