distracted driving

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION

Every year brings increasing numbers of distracted and reckless drivers across Texas, which is why the Texas Department of Transportation is touring the state to promote its annual “Be Safe, Drive Smart” campaign.

The initiative’s interactive road show is making stops along Interstate 35 throughout June and July, engaging motorists on driving safely through construction zones and other sections along the venue — including a stop from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at Buc-ee’s, 2760 Interstate 35 North in New Braunfels.

“A stop at Buc-ee’s is a tradition on summer road trips, and we think Buc-ee’s is an ideal partner in helping us reach thousands of drivers stopping at their stores along I-35,” said Jeff Salzgeber of the Sherry Matthews Group, the firm handling TxDOT’s campaign.

Salzgeber said TxDOT will unveil an interactive exhibit featuring games and video displays in the Buc-ee’s parking lot, all reminding motorists to drive at safe speeds, avoid distractions and to buckle up.

“It’s a very interactive event,” he said. “We’ll have folks with 3-D goggles driving on virtual reality courses. One will be geared toward motorcycle safety, another is “Click It or Ticket” related – they put drivers through a variety of scenarios – blind spots, pedestrians, and looking out for other drivers. 

“The activities help them see the importance of being aware of their surroundings.”

More than 20,000 traffic crashes led to 153 deaths last year along Interstate 35, a 588-mile stretch from Oklahoma border to Texas-Mexico border in Laredo. TxDOT says rapid population growth along the venue has led to more vehicles, road construction and maintenance work to alleviate increased traffic congestion. 

“Motorists traveling on I-35 must stay alert and be prepared for unexpected driving conditions, traffic backups and work zones,” it said. “The section of I-35 through TxDOT’s San Antonio District saw 4,733 traffic crashes in 2018, resulting in 26 fatalities and 86 serious injuries.”

Saturday’s exhibits will feature safety quizzes with giveaway items; the two screens will display motorcycle and teen “Click It or Ticket” virtual reality games, with folks wearing 3-D goggles and navigating a course projected on the screens. 

“We’ll also have a station where people on road trips can access drivetexas.org to see active road construction sites and plan their trip accordingly,” Salzgeber said.

State laws ban texting while driving, which has led to fewer distracted driving crashes. But  TxDOT recently unveiled a “Heads up, Texas” campaign reminding of those dangers – and also of the “Move Over/Slow Down” law requiring drivers to change lanes and reduce speeds to 20 mph below posted limits when see flashing blue or amber lights on emergency vehicles and tow trucks stopped on the roadside. 

 

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