FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|CONTACT:||Buel C. Young||MVA External Affairs|
Maryland Reminds Drivers to "Park the Phone" to Avoid Costly Tickets During Increased Enforcement Wave
More than 230 people killed in Maryland each year in distracted driving crashes
GLEN BURNIE, MD (October 20, 2015) - Imagine you’re driving and you get a call or a text. You’re faced with a choice – do you reply or answer that call? If you answered anything other than “No”, you could be setting yourself up for huge tickets and even worse, life changing crashes caused by driving while distracted.
“Every year in Maryland more than 28,000 people are injured and more than 230 are killed in crashes involving a distracted driver,” stated Administrator Christine Nizer, Maryland Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “We want motorists to ‘Park the Phone’ before they drive and keep their focus on driving.”
In addition to radio messages and a social media campaign about the dangers of distracted driving, law enforcement partners across the state are coordinating patrols to identify drivers using their handheld cellphones or other electronic devices while driving. Citations can be as much as $160 and can also include points on a driver’s license. Additionally, offenders who cause crashes resulting in death or serious injury while using a handheld cell phone are subject to penalties of up to one year in jail and a fine of $5,000.
The distracted driving enforcement wave also coincides with National Teen Driver Safety Week which runs until October 24, 2015. Younger drivers are especially susceptible to crashes due to distraction. Over the past five years, more than 32,000 drivers between the age of 16 and 20 were involved in a distracted driving-related crash on Maryland’s roads. Safety partners in Maryland will be participating in a series of events at local high schools in conjunction with Ford’s Driving Skills For Life program. These events are intended to educate students and their parents through educational activities designed to prevent distracted driving, as well as reminding teens and parents that they should be buckled up in all seating positions at all times.
“Anything that takes your eyes away from the road, whether it’s eating, changing the radio station, or using a handheld device is a distraction,” stated Maryland Highway Safety Office Chief Tom Gianni. “When you drive distracted, you put lives on the line, and you set a bad example for friends and family. It’s completely preventable and there’s really no excuse.”
Here’s how everyone can help prevent distracted driving:
- Park the phone before you drive. Driving isn’t the time to be talking on a cellphone, texting, or using any other electronic handheld device.
- Manage your time. Take care of any calls or texts before you start driving.
- Pull over! If you absolutely have to take a call or reply to a text, find a safe place like a parking lot to pull over.
- Ride Responsibly. If you’re a passenger, and your driver is texting or making calls, ask them to stop. Even better, be their designated texter!
- Drive Defensively. Just because you don’t drive distracted doesn’t mean that others won’t.
- Buckle up! It’s the single most important step to save your life in the event of a crash.
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Note: Maryland's Toward Zero Deaths campaign focuses on preventing impaired driving, aggressive driving, and distracted driving, while also promoting seat belt use. For information on the Toward Zero Deaths campaign, please visit www.towardzerodeathsmd.com.