Next week, Caltrans is rolling out a safety campaign focusing on distracted driving. From October 20 to 24, motorists will notice the following message on electronic freeway signs throughout California: ONE TEXT OR CALL COULD WRECK IT ALL. (The message will be preempted for Amber alerts, emergency notifications, incidents, and travel times.)
We all know that texting while driving is a bad -- potentially tragic -- idea, but at any given moment during the day in the United States, 660,000 people are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices. Tech-savvy young people are the worst offenders.
So, a friendly reminder: never, ever text while driving. There is no text so urgent that it's worth risking your life and the lives of other motorists. Here are some sobering stats to help drive the point home:
> 80 percent of vehicle crashes involve some sort of driver inattention.
> Up to 6,000 people annually are killed in crashes nationwide where driver distractions are involved.
> Talking on a cell phone or texting is the number-one source of driver distraction.
> Texting takes your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds, far enough to travel the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour. Most crashes happen within less than three seconds of reaction time.
> The act of talking on a cell phone, even hands free, can give you “inattention blindness,” where your brain isn’t seeing what’s right in front of you. You aren’t even aware that you are driving impaired.
For more information about distracted driving, visit the Office of Traffic Safety website.