With more people dying senselessly on Texas roads due to distracted driving, the Texas Department of Transportation kicks off its annual “Talk, Text, Crash” campaign to urge drivers to give their full attention to the road. TxDOT’s campaign coincides with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April.

“Nearly 1 in 5 traffic crashes in Texas is caused by a distracted driver,” said TxDOT Deputy Executive Director John Barton. “Last year, 468 people were killed because someone took their attention off the road. How important is a fleeting distraction when it could end in the death of someone, perhaps even one of your loved ones?”

Distracted driving-related crashes in Texas are highest among 16- to 24-year-olds. In 2014, there were 100,825 crashes in Texas involving distracted driving — up 6 percent from the previous year.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers using a mobile phone are four times more likely to cause serious injury in a crash. Text messaging is particularly dangerous. New research conducted last year by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute showed it takes a driver double the amount of time to react when they are distracted by text messaging. Additionally, sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of a football field while blindfolded.

While mobile phone use is the most recognizable driving distraction, any type of behavior that draws a motorist’s attention away from driving is dangerous. TxDOT urges drivers to refrain from:

Checking email
Eating and drinking

Programming a navigation system
Adjusting music or other audio device
If a distraction absolutely requires immediate attention, TxDOT reminds drivers to pull over to a safe location and come to a complete stop before diverting their attention.