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Phones cause 4,285 wrecks

recent study of Texas Department of Transportation accident statistics revealed the number of crashes caused by distracted driving rose 18.7 percent as Texas grew more strict on the usage of mobile devices behind the w wheel.

Erath ranked 68th worst out of the 203 counties sampled at 3.85 percent based on these 2017 numbers and rising 18.7 percent from 2016 to 2017. (The study removed counties with 4,999 residents or less due to small sample sizes.)

Neighboring Hamilton County ranked slightly higher on the list at 64 based on a 3.87 percentage, although the number of distracted driving accidents reportedly fell 23.26 percent from 2016 to 2017.

Comanche fared much better at 138 based on a 2.29 percentage and a slightriseinaccidents at 3.23 percent.

There were a reported 682 vehicular accidents in Erath County in 2017 and 146 of those were caused by distracted driving, according to TxDOT samples. (Three of the 146 were fatal and10weresuspected to involve serious injury.)

Districted driving was also reportedly responsible for 33 of Hamilton’s 107 accidents and 32 of Comanche’s 182 accidents.

TXDOT reports distracted driving includes but is not limited to texting, talking on a mobile phone, eating and drinking, putting on makeup, shaving, reading, programming a navigation system, watching a video and adjusting the radio.

A survey of Texas drivers conducted in participation with AT&T’s It Can Wait campaign found the top 5 distractions to be: texting, snapping/viewing photos, playing music, emailing and accessing social media.

The frequency of mobile device use behind the wheel led TxDOT to report cellphones and such devices in their own category for accident statistics.

Statewide drivers

Cell and mobile devices were reported as the cause of 2,193 rural accidents in 2017. Of those, 51 were fatal and 65 were suspected to involve serious injury.

Driver inattention was blamed for 18,005 motor vehicle crashed in 2017 with 125 of those reported fatal and 587 suspected to involve serious injury. A separate category listed distraction in vehicles as responsible for 3,896 accidents with 40 of those being fatal and 150 suspected to have resulted in serious bodily injury.

Mobile devices were listed as the cause of 2,092 accidents in urban environments with 21 reported fatal and 80 suspected to involve serious injury.

Driver inattention was reportedly responsible for 71,032 urban accidents with 169 of those fatal and 1,456 suspected to involve serious injury.

Distractions in vehicle were listed as the cause of 8,764 urban accidents with 30 being fatal and 186 suspected to involve serious injury.

The study also listed the top 10 best and worst large and mid-size counties.

Bexar and Kendall were the best large and mid-size counties respectively, while Randall and Bee tested as the worse when TxDOT numbers were compared to census data.

Locally, Hood County was named third most safe mid-size county while Coryell was named fifth on the large county list.

The study was conducted by ValuePenguin (a division of Lending Tree — to recognize the National Safety Council naming April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Using 2017 crash reports from TxDOT (the most recent year available) and information from the U.S. Census Bureau, the study sought to find which Texas counties were the best and worst for distracted driving based on population.

This period reflects the year that Texas adopted a statewide ban on texting while driving that made a first offense punishable by a fine of up to $99 while repeat offenders can face up to $200.

(The law took effect Sept. 1, 2017.)

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