HOUSTON – Drive down any road in Houston, and you’re bound to pass a distracted driver.
We know the problem isn’t unique to our area, but it sure is one that continue to grow. And one, we focus on all week during KHOU 11 News This Morning.
Nearly 1 in 5 crashes in Texas is caused by a distracted driver. The Houston Fire Department is trying to spread the word especially to teens.
If you’re behind the wheel, that call or text can wait.
So what does the Houston Fire Department have to do with distracted driving?
Well, for one, they respond to all those wrecks. And two, they’re not immune to all those close calls and near misses.
In Houston alone, firefighters respond to about 1,000 calls each month. That’s lights flashing, siren blaring, and slowing down at intersections.
But all those safety measures aren’t protecting against distracted drivers.
“We’ll come to a red light and the fire truck as the right of way. We stop and we make sure all those lanes, everyone’s stopped and we’ll watch one person fly through and they just miss hitting us,” HFD Spokesman Ruy Lozano said.
Lozano added, “You know, no matter if it’s a text message or a phone call, it can wait. Because it takes one split second for your life or the life of someone else to change forever.”
That’s a message HFD and KHOU 11 are really driving home.
Starting Monday, a public service announcement will urge drivers, especially teens, to put down their cellphone and focus on the road. Texting and driving is just not worth it.
It’s one thing to listen to the message, it’s a whole other ball game to show teens just how real the dangers are.
If only there were a way to show them the danger, without any of the risk? HFD says they can make that happen.
Give them 5 minutes, and your teen could likely change their thoughts about becoming a distracted driver.
“Alright, you ready? You’re going to navigate the turn. And you’re going to do it all while texting,” says a firefighter guiding a teen through a driving course.
The teens are on bicycles, texting through a closed course.
“Follow the cones,” the firefighter tells the teen.
What’s so hard about that?
“Turn! Turn! Turn! Turn! Turn! Boom! Keep texting. Keep texting. There you go. It is tough. It is tough,” the firefighter said.
And it is a game changer for teens like Jasmine Morales.
“It was pretty difficult to do it. I crashed into the cones a lot,” she said.
The Reagan High School junior doesn’t drive, yet, so five minutes weaving through tangerine with technology just formed a new habit.
“Like let it go, if it rings or something. I would just not answer it,” she said.
“The most important message is, two hands and two eyes on the wheel and on the road. And most of all, put the cellphone away. It can wait,” Lozano said.
Houston firefighters, devastated by their constant response to distracted driving wrecks, teamed with state farm to create this teen driver safety course.
Firefighters are doing their part to really driver the message home.