The Delaware Department of Transportation recently announced that signs warning motorists not to text while driving are being installed along Interstate 95 and State Route 1.

The Delaware Department of Transportation recently announced that signs warning motorists not to text while driving are being installed along Interstate 95 and State Route 1.

"Delaware law prohibits drivers from using their cellphones to talk or text while driving," Transportation Secretary Jennifer Cohan said. "Sadly, not everyone has gotten the message that 'It Can Wait.' Throughout the country, 'It Can Wait' campaigns such as these share a simple message: ‘Keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone.’ I am pleased to see that campaigns have evolved as smartphone driving distractions have grown beyond texting to include social media, web surfing, video chatting and more."

Distracted driving is involved in more than 200,000 vehicle crashes each year, often involving injuries and death, according to a DelDOT press release. Despite knowing the risks, seven in 10 drivers engage in smartphone activity while driving, and four in 10 teens admit to social networking while driving. Nationally, driver distraction contributes to more than 5,000 traffic fatalities each year.

DelDOT is joining American Automobile Association Mid-Atlantic to educate the public on a safety campaign to raise awareness about distracted driving.

"Most drivers view texting or emailing while driving as a very serious threat to their own personal safety and consider it completely unacceptable," said Jim Lardear, director for public and government affairs of AAA Mid-Atlantic. "Unfortunately, more than two in five report reading a text message or email while driving in the past month. DelDOT's new signage will serve as a reminder that cell phone use can wait until the driver is safely parked."

Tips to avoid distractions while driving include:

• Fully focus on driving. Do not let anything divert your attention, actively scan the road, use your mirrors and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists.

• Store loose gear, possessions and other distractions that could roll around in the car, so you do not feel tempted to reach for them on the floor or the seat.

• Make adjustments before you begin your trip. Address vehicle systems like your GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time.

• Finish dressing and personal grooming at home — before you get on the road.

• Snack smart. If possible, eat meals or snacks before or after your trip, not while driving. On the road, avoid messy foods that can be difficult to manage.

• Secure children and pets before getting underway. If they need your attention, pull off the road safely to care for them. Reaching into the backseat can cause you to lose control of the vehicle.

• Put aside your electronic distractions. Don't use cellphones while driving — handheld or hands free — except in absolute emergencies. Never use text messaging, email functions, video games or the internet with a wireless device, including those built into the vehicle, while driving.

• If you have passengers, enlist their help so you can focus safely on driving.

• If another activity demands your attention, instead of trying to attempt it while driving, pull off the road and stop your vehicle in a safe place. To avoid temptation, power down or stow devices before heading out. Drivers should use caution while using voice-activated systems, even at seemingly safe moments when there is a lull in traffic or the car is stopped at an intersection, because potentially dangerous distractions can last longer than most drivers expect.

• If you cannot devote your full attention to driving because of some other activity, it's a distraction. Take care of it before or after your trip, not while behind the wheel.

To address the growing dangers of distracted driving, the campaign will serve as a start for an expanded "Towards Zero Deaths" outreach currently in development with the Safety Division of DelDOT, AAA Mid-Atlantic and the Delaware Office of Highway Safety.