MERIDIAN -- Idaho State Police say more people are distracted while driving, and more people are getting into accidents because of it. They say it's a growing trend they're trying to stop. But they can't do it alone.
Police say a crash in Meridian Friday morning where a woman crossed the center lane and hit a truck happened because the woman was trying to answer her phone.
Sergeant John Gonzales with the Meridian Police Department says, In this case, the distraction was to the point where the vehicle veered across a center turn lane into oncoming traffic.
One person was sent to the hospital, two others drove themselves there. And police say this is just the latest crash caused by distracted driving.
It actually happens quite frequently, says Idaho State Police Trooper Nathan Madenford.
The trend Madenford is seeing is being seen nationally too. In 2012, more than 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving crashes.
Police say a driver texting or talking on a cell phone has similar habits and reaction time to a drunk driver. But Madenford says while phones are the biggest culprit in distracted driving, they're not the only culprit. There are three main issues to distracted driving; things that take your eyes off the road, things that take your hands off the wheel, and even things that take your mind off of driving.
He says that could include messing with the radio, eating, dealing with a distracting passenger, or just thinking through a hard day. They're thinking about other things; what they need to be doing, what happened in the past, and they may not see that light turn red, or the brake lights come on in front of them... It can happen so quick, and it's something so simple, but it can have a dramatic effect.
So what can be done? Since April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, police around the nation and here in Idaho are cracking down. There are national campaigns trying to educate people on how dangerous it is. Reporters are doing stories. But can all that reverse this dangerous trend? Hopefully people are watching those ads, looking at the campaigns, hearing the stuff on the news, realizing, 'Hey, maybe I fit into those categories,' said Madenford.
Studies show teens are the most likely to drive distracted. So, one of the most effective things parents can do to help, is not just talk to their kids, but be a good example for their kids and not drive distracted.