AUSTIN (KXAN) — There is a growing problem across Texas – distracted driving is killing hundreds of people every year. The Texas Department of Transportation reports nearly 110,000 crashes statewide in 2016 were the result of distracted driving. Out of those crashes, 455 people died. In an effort to change that, TxDOT is doing something different when it launches its summer campaign of Talk, Text, Crash.
Over the month of June, TxDOT will take an interactive wall around the state that highlights the stories of those who lost a loved one due to distracted driving. People like Stacy Riddle from Houston. Her two daughters, Brianna, 19, and Jade, 17, were on their way home from South Padre Island with two other friends in March of last year.
“I had spoken to them that morning and they had a good time,” Riddle said. “I got a knock at the door and there was a trooper with a picture in his hand and I noticed it was Jade. He told me Jade had died in an accident. I completely lost it.”
The teenage driver told police when she looked at her phone to check her GPS she lost control of her car, went into a spin and ended up crossing the median and stopped in oncoming traffic.
“That’s when an 18-wheeler plowed into the back of her car. And it was six or seven hours later that I found out Brianna was dead,” Riddle said.
Another teen died in the crash but the driver survived. Riddle hopes by sharing her story as part of TxDOT’s campaign it will change the mind of other drivers when they think about checking their phone.
“These are lives. I’ll never have grandkids, I’ll never see them get married and it was all due to someone not paying attention,” Riddle said.
The display along with a distracted driving simulator will be at Barton Creek Square Mall on Tuesday until 9 p.m.