KILLEEN, TX — According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were nearly 900 crashes last year in Bell County involving a distracted driver.
It’s incidents like those that plague our roadways more during the holidays.
Katlyn Fowler was 17 years old when a distracted driver took her life away in 2016.
Fast forward four years to 2020, her mother Christine hangs one less stocking on the mantle after a similar incident killed her son.
“I know we’re probably a 1 in a million family that has lost two kids that young,” Mercer said, as tears streamed down her face. “And you know, you would think that I’ve been through it already, so it’d be a little bit easier, but it’s not.”
She said the dialogue these days is dominated by COVID19, but with more people hitting the roads to shop or visit loved ones for the holidays, safe driving should not take the back seat.
“Make sure you wear your mask, make sure you wash your hands versus the used to, make sure you wear your seat belt, if something happens over there or they start serving alcohol, always call us,” she explained.
TxDOT agrees, recording 17.4% of Texas crashes in 2019 involving a distracted driver, resulting in 378 deaths.
“The best way to not be a distracted driver is just make sure you’re 100% focused on the task at hand,” Jake Smith, the public information office for TxDOT of Waco said. “Which is driving and making you and your family make it to your destination as safely as possible.”
So how can you practice safe driving?
TxDOT advised programming your navigation before leaving, putting your phone down, setting the radio to where you want it and keeping your eyes on the road at all times is essential.
“Whenever you’re a safe driver, that means you're keeping yourself safe, your family safe and the traveling public around you safe," Smith said.
It’s this advice and more Mercer wants people to know.
“Pay attention because if you don't, you could kill somebody else's kid and this is the life they’d have to live,” Mercer said, “Even if you get to go on, what kind of life is that knowing you killed somebody else's kid?”