Distracted Driving Awareness Month Published Oct. 25, 2020 By Airman 1st Class David Phaff 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Of the 97,853 distracted driving crashes in Texas last year, 378 resulted in death and 2,500 serious injuries. Distracted driving can happen anywhere, even here at Laughlin Air Force Base. Base safety officials are taking the lead to ensure all Team XL personnel and families don’t become another statistic. It all starts with base personnel taking the initiative to actually focus on driving when driving and holding fellow wingmen accountable when they do the same. “Our mission as the Safety office is to be proactive and get ahead of any problems that threaten the well-being of our members here,” said Alexander Valdez, 47th Flying Training Wing Occupational Safety Specialist. “It’s more important than ever to take care of ourselves and look out for one another...the last thing we want is for someone to get into a car accident because they were distracted.” The COVID-19 pandemic may have caused the National Safety Council to postpone the observance of Distracted Driving Awareness Month from April to October but Valdez and his team are doing everything they can to promote awareness. “We set up a sign when exiting base to not use your phone while driving,” said Valdez. “We’ve also sent out emails and made posters urging people to focus on the road and not their phones or other distractions.” According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the total number of crashes on Texas roads were more than 560,000 in 2019. Of those, more than 17% involved distracted driving caused by inattention or cell phone use. “Although everyone is at risk, whether you’re the distracted driver or you get hit by the distracted driver, the youth are the most at-risk demographic,” said Valdez. “But we are all responsible for putting our phones down for a couple of minutes while we drive.” “Start with spreading the word,” he said. “Tell your friends and family about the dangers of distracted driving.” Always give driving your full attention Pull off the road entirely and come to a stop before you talk or text Put your phone away, or turn it off, before getting behind the wheel Tell friends, family and coworkers you won’t respond to calls or texts when you are behind the wheel Use a smartphone app that sends auto-reply texts when you are being the wheel Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are the best defense against unsafe drivers. Be good role models for young drivers and set a good example. Talk with your teenagers about responsible driving. No text message or social media alert on your phone is worth your life or that of someone else. It's up to all of us to choose safe driving habits and not be another statistic. We all have a choice.