If you ever drive on I95 or another highway or road in Maryland and hear your cell phone ring, it’s probably for the best if you let it go to voicemail. One of the biggest problems on our roads today is distracted driving. Although it may seem innocuous to read or send a quick text or look away for a second to fiddle with your touchscreen dashboard settings, those few seconds of lost focus could cause a crash that could lead to injury or even death.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and as the month comes to a close, the Maryland State Police will be in full force to ensure that drivers are not doing things when they drive that could potentially lead to a dangerous outcome. According to the Maryland State Police, more than 31,000 people are injured every year in Maryland from crashes caused by distracted driving.
Maryland has made legislative efforts to curb distracted driving and Jakes’s Law is the corner stone of recent improvements. Prior to its passing in April of 2014, convictions of manslaughter and reckless driving could come with fines as low as $1,000. The new law calls for much higher fines of up to $5,000 and imprisonment for drivers who cause a serious or fatal crash because of cell phone use. The increased penalties are a step in the right direction but driving safety advocates continue to argue that the law should go further to allow law enforcement to obtain cell phone records that will help firmly establish such incidences. Private advocates raise concerns here.
Nonetheless, in conjunction with Distracted Driving awareness month, officers will be doing more active monitoring though the remainder of the month and beyond to ensure drivers are not a danger to themselves and others.
Driving Safety Tips
In addition to Maryland MVA registration renewal services, eTags offer a number of online resources related to driver safety. We encourage you to check out many of our other posts that relate to distracted driving and other driver safety issues for additional information, but here are a few things you can avoid today to do your part to make Maryland roads safer:
Don’t Use Your Cell Phone When You Drive: Even if you’re typing a one-word reply text or using the GPS on your phone, those few seconds you take can lead to a crash. If you need to use your cellphone, it’s best to pull over where it is safe to do so.
Avoid Eating When You’re Driving: All of us have probably found ourselves in a situation where we had to take a quick lunch in the car. However, if you’re concentrating on that fast food burger, you’re not focusing on the road. Take a minute to eat in the parking lot before you head back on the road.
Reaching Down to Grab Something: This is another common cause of crashes that can be easily avoided. If something falls from your seat or dashboard when you’re driving, it’ll still be there when you reach your destination.Unless it becomes an obstruction to your ability to accelerate or break, it can wait.
These are just a few examples of distracted driving. When you drive, your focus should be on the road for the safety of you, the passengers in your car, and other motorists on the road. Keep these tips in mind when you drive to ensure a safe drive as you travel the roads in Maryland.