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Distracted driving has become one of the most dangerous trends on American roads. It’s estimated that nine people die and 100 are injured every day due to distracted driving-related accidents. In Maryland, distracted driving contributes to about 58 percent of all traffic accidents, killing nearly 200 people and injuring over 27,000 others every year.
Unfortunately, every driver has fallen victim to a distraction at some point behind the wheel. To help spread awareness on the prevalence of distracted driving accidents, April is recognized as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. By educating drivers on what constitutes as distracted driving and providing methods for preventing it, we can all help do our part to save lives simply by just paying attention.
Distractions on the road impair your ability to drive safely. According to Geico, there are three different types of impairments that can affect a driver’s ability to concentrate:
Drivers can be distracted by one, two, or all three types of impairments at the same time depending on what they are doing. Texting, for instance, is one of the most common forms of distractive driving and involves all three impairments. Drivers who text are looking at their phone, taking their hand off the wheel to text, and focusing their mind on what it is they want to say, putting everyone else on the road on hold and at serious risk.
Multitasking behind the wheel of a car is a myth- not a skill. According to the National Safety Council, the human brain cannot efficiently perform two tasks at the same time. For example, if you are driving while talking to someone on the phone, your brain is constantly switching back and forth between the road and conversation. Not only are you processing the information coming in and figuring out what to say next, but you’re also attempting to navigate your vehicle and react to unpredictable hazards that can be easily missed if your brain is not entirely focused.
These are the most common activities drivers are participating when they think they are multitasking on the road:
The myth of multitasking can be proven merely by looking at one of the most common causes of distracted driving accidents: daydreaming. In an article published last April by Insurance Business America, distracted driving trends showed that 61 percent of distracted drivers indicated their accidents occurred when they were “lost in thought” or “daydreaming”. Even when your hands are on the wheel and your eyes are on the road, if your brain is not focused on driving, accidents are bound to occur.
It’s easy to tell someone how to reduce distractions on the road, but some of us need a bit more help than others. The following tools were designed to assist drivers in overcoming the most common distractions that are known for leading to serious and fatal to accidents:
If the guilt that you could hurt yourself or someone else from driving distracted is not enough, Maryland police are hoping their penalties will be.
The start of April was also the beginning of the Maryland State Police annual crackdown on distracted driving. According to The Garret County Republican, state troopers issued 16,050 citations for distracted driving and 18,671 warnings back in 2018. So far in 2019, troopers have issued 3,065 citations and 3,528 warnings on Maryland roads. Here are the fines Marylanders if caught participating in distracted driving behaviors involving cellphones:
All Marylanders have a responsibility to drive with care to protect the health and safety of other motorists, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists sharing the road. The Maryland Highway Safety Department is offering this advice to drivers looking to reduce their distractions in the car:
If you are dedicated to driving safe this month, take the pledge! Visit the National Safety Council’s website and sign the Just Drive Pledge to commit to driving cellphone and distraction free.
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