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TxDOT Releases an AR Game to Fight Distracted Driving

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Distracted Driving

The Texas Department of Transportation wants to make one message abundantly clear: distracted driving is dangerous driving. But instead of solely relying upon PSAs or giant billboards, TXDOT has taken a high-tech approach — releasing an online augmented reality game to spread the word about safe driving.

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The aim of the game

Teenager distracted driving cell phone
Photo: Bruce Mars

The new augmented reality game, entitled “Dart Those Distractions,” challenges players to pop balloons in a carnival-inspired activity. But there’s a twist — the balloons are emblazoned with symbols representing common driving distractions, like primping in the mirror, eating, messing with the infotainment system, and inputting navigation info.

Admittedly, it seems a little ironic to combat distracted driving with a cell phone game. According to TxDOT executive director James Bass, the game’s purpose is to teach drivers that distractions go beyond texting and making calls while behind the wheel.

The game is part of the “Heads Up, Texas” initiative, which seeks to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and other hazards. The bilingual campaign informs drivers about the need for seatbelts and observing speed limits, as well as the dangers of driving under the influence of controlled substances. The initiative also includes videos, radio ads, print ads, and even community gatherings. That said, “Dart Those Distractions” is undoubtedly the most innovative way that TxDOT has promoted its message.

You can join in on the fun by visiting on a phone, tablet, or desktop computer.

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Scary statistics and preventable accidents

car accident
Photo: Tumisu via Pixabay

While the game may be fun, its message is serious business. TxDOT states that in 2019, about 17.4 percent of the state’s accidents are caused by preventable distractions. That’s 97,853 total crashes caused by distracted driving. Those crashes caused 2,500 serious injuries and 378 deaths.

Want to do your part to keep your local roads safe? Turn off your phone or put it in Do Not Disturb mode before you hit the road. If you don’t want to leave your friends and family hanging, give them a heads up before you drive, or use an app that can auto-respond to their attempts to contact you.