There's a new and real threat on our roads. It's one that has caught many of us off guard: Text Messaging. Research now says that texting while driving causes your reaction time to delay as if you were driving after four beers. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) worked with the Maryland Highway Safety Office, Howard County Public Schools, Howard County Parks and Recreation Department and Centennial High School to draw attention to this very real problem.
Student volunteers from Centennial High were first asked to drive a golf course over a pre-determined course mapped out with traffic cones without any distractions. Next, each participant was asked to drive the same course and to text a message while doing so to demonstrate what happens when a person's focus and hands are taken away form the task of driving their vehicle.
Research has shown that teens often perceive risks and distractions as less dangerous than they really are. One in four American teens - 26% - say they have texted while driving. According to the MVA, 16 and 17 year old drivers, who are 1.6 percent of all licensed drivers, represent eleven percent of all driver fatalities. Vehicle crashes kill more teens in Maryland than drugs, guns, or any disease.
Maryland's law against text messaging and driving went into effect October 1, 2009. The Maryland law makes the activity a misdemeanor crime. A civil penalty will be imposed and a fine of not more than $500.00 can be enforced if convicted.