Not knowing about the dangers of texting and driving won’t be an option for young drivers in Texas beginning Sept. 1.
Starting next month, anyone 18 and over who wants to get a driver’s license in the state will be required to take the “Impact Texas Young Drivers” course, the Department of Public Safety said in a news release Thursday.
It’s the second course in the “Impact Texas Driver” program, developed in 2015 by the DPS with the aim of saving people through education about distracted driving. The first course, “Impact Texas Teen Drivers,” is a two-hour video that went into effect two years ago for drivers ages 15 to 17.
The new and free one-hour course affects drivers 18 to 24 and older, who are also required to complete a six-hour adult driver education course before obtaining a driver’s license. It doesn’t apply to those who already have a license, either in or out of state.
It goes live the same day as a statewide ban against texting and driving takes effect.
Neither course replaces the distracted driving module taught in the 32-hour teen driver education class or the six hours of adult driver education. Both courses apply to those trying to obtain a new license and can be accessed at the Impact Texas Drivers website.
“Driving is one of the most dangerous things we do on a daily basis, and it should command our undivided attention,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said in the news release. “This new component of the department’s distracted driving initiative uses research and compelling true stories to highlight the many risks facing drivers.”
The theme of the course is, “It is not about bad people doing bad things, but about good people making poor choices,” according to the DPS’s Impact Texas Young Drivers website.
It mentions as an example choosing to use a cellphone while driving but includes multitasking in general as opposed to focusing on the road.
The program is modeled after one developed by the California nonprofit Impact Teen Drivers. It’s designed to “engage young adult drivers in defining what distracted driving is, who’s affected by distracted driving, and to help emphasize the problem of reckless and distracted driving,” according to the website.
A third course, “Impact Texas Adult Drivers” for drivers 25 and older, will be announced in 2018, the DPS says. In the meantime, drivers in that age group will have to take the “Impact Texas Young Drivers” course to obtain a license.
Tyler Case of Arlington raised $3,000 to produce 'Open Your Eyes,' a public service announcement on the dangers of distracted driving. The PSA is loosely based on the 2014 death of an Arlington baby in a stroller who was struck and killed by a driver. The baby's father picked up the child's body and tearfully yelled at the driver, 'Look what you've done!'