29 Apr 2010, 2:08pm
Commuting Safety:

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Every driver commits at least some of these six sins

Does talking to a passenger distract your driving?

Yes, it does, according to safety officials. And that’s just one of a half dozen habits that distract motorists.

No Phone Zone logo

Drivers are considered distracted when they:

  • Talk to passengers
  • Smoke
  • Eat
  • Fiddle with dashboard controls
  • Reach for something
  • Talk or text on a cell phone

OK, so some of these, especially the last one, aren’t surprises. And it’s the last one that Oprah Winfrey is targeting with her “No Phone Zone” Day, which is tomorrow.

Agencies across the nation, including the Texas Department of Transportation, have joined Oprah’s campaign. Tomorrow, electronic highway signs will flash, “Make Your Vehicle a No Phone Zone,” or “Drive Now. Text or Talk Later.”

Motorists using hand-held devices are four times more likely to be in a crash, TxDOT says. All distractions caused 103,526 accidents and 524 deaths in Texas in 2008.

Nationwide, distractions led to 5,870 deaths and 515,000 injuries, statistics show.

Young people are especially vulnerable. Almost half of teens use phones while driving, a Texas Transportation Institute study found.

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