Houston Drivers the Most Distracted in the Nation

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No other American city is quite as distracted as Houston, Texas, at least when it comes to driving.

According to research conducted by Zendrive, Houston motorists used their cellphones 9.4% of the time while they were behind the wheel. Dallas-Fort Worth came in second, and was the only other major U.S. metro region were drivers were distracted more than 9% of the time.

Distracted Driving as Dangerous as Drunk Driving

Distracted driving caused 95,639 crashes in Texas last year, while nearly 400 people in the Lone Star State died because of an inattentive motorist. In Houston, distracted driving has caused 66 to 70 deaths every year since 2013.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, distracted driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. Yet many motorists who wouldn’t even think about driving while intoxicated regularly use cellphones when operating their vehicles.

A texting driver is 8-times more likely to crash, while those who talk on a hand-held cellphone are 4-times more likely to cause an accident. Even a quick 2-second glance at a smartphone or vehicle infotainment system can double the risk for a crash.

Going hands free isn’t much better, as mental distractions may persist up to 27 second after a driver uses voice-based technology to dial, change music or send a text message. That’s enough time for a car going 25 mph to travel the length of an entire football field.

“Most drivers believe that if their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel, then they are focused on the drive,” said AAA spokesperson Daniel Armbruster. “But research proves that there are hidden dangers when using a cellphone or in-vehicle technology.”

Distracted Driving Crashes are Preventable

Nearly 58% of drivers believe cellphone use behind the wheel is a very serious threat to their personal safety, and 78% believe texting is a significant danger. Yet 49% admitted to recently using a hand-held phone while they were driving and nearly 35% said they sent a text or email.

“We have created a do as I say, not as I do culture on our roadways. Drivers understand the risk, they just don’t think they are the problem,” said Armbruster. “With 394 people killed on Texas roadways in distracted driving crashes last year, it is time for drivers to be accountable. We can save lives.”

Fortunately, most distracted driving crashes are preventable. To keep yourself and others safe, AAA recommends:

  • Reducing the temptation to use mobile devices by placing them out of sight while driving.
  • Programming GPS or other navigation systems before you start driving.
  • Pulling safely off the road and stopping your vehicle before texting or making a call.
  • Asking any passengers to navigate, make calls, or send messages while you’re driving.
  • If you’re a passenger, speak up when your driver becomes distracted.
  • Avoid calling or texting others you know are driving.
  • Never call, text or play games while walking or cycling.

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