Texting, other distractions have led to thousands of crashes in Kansas
TOPEKA, Kan. — In 2017, 28 percent of all traffic crashes in Kansas were attributed to driver inattention or distractions. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) and law enforcement agencies across the state are working to educate drivers of the dangers of driving while distracted. Kansans will see a multi-media campaign running to support these efforts.
While distracted driving is most often associated with cell phone use, many other situations can cause distractions in the car. Interacting with children, eating food, using other electronic devices, and even things happening outside the vehicle contributed to more than 16,000 distracted driving crashes in Kansas in 2017.
“Taking your eyes off the road to send a text is like driving blindfolded down a football field,” said Chris Bortz, Traffic Safety Program Manager for KDOT. “You wouldn’t risk driving blindfolded, yet we see people on their phones or eating or putting on makeup every day on our roads.”
Many people may not know that distracted driving can be a ticketable offense in Kansas. For example, any texting, social media or internet activity on your phone can lead to a minimum $60 ticket plus court costs. However, the worst result of distracted driving would be to cause an injury or death.
“We are facing an epidemic. Too many people are injured or killed due to inattention on our roads. Distracted driving crashes are 100 percent preventable,” said KDOT Secretary Julie Lorenz. “Protecting yourself, your passengers and other Kansans is as simple as putting the phone down and avoiding all other distractions in the car.”
Law enforcement officers also encourage Kansans to “just drive” when they are behind the wheel. If your attention is anywhere other than the road, you’re driving distracted, and you’re driving dangerous. Drivers can minimize distractions by turning off electronic devices and keeping both eyes on the road ahead at all times. They also encourage passengers to hold their driver accountable and to not be a distraction themselves.