Studies show that people are limited in the amount of information they can process at any one time. To accommodate the multiple demands that occur during driving, people are forced to shift their attention back and forth. It only takes a moment of diverted attention to miss important visual and audio cues on the road, which is what makes distracted driving so dangerous. There are three main types of distracted driving:
- Visual — taking your eyes off the road
- Manual — taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive — taking your mind off the task of driving
While many recent campaigns focus on cell phone use, traditional interruptions such as changing the music, eating, or settling arguments between children can be just as distracting, and just as deadly. Keep yourself and your passengers safe by keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road at all times.
Maryland Fast Facts:
- In 2011, a total of 231 persons lost their lives and 29,050 persons were injured in distracted driver-involved crashes.*
- Between 2007–2011, male drivers represented 78% of those killed and 53% of those injured in distracted driver-involved crashes.*
- In 2011, 30% of the total distracted driver involved crashes involved rear-end collisions.*
- In 2010, 3,092 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, and an estimated additional 416,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.
- Roughly 18 percent of injury crashes in 2010 were reported as distraction-affected crashes.
- Eleven percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.
- Approximately 40 percent of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger. (Pew)
- Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Monash University)
- Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. (VTTI)
- In the month of June 2011, more than 196 billion text messages were sent or received in the US, up nearly 50% from June 2009. (CTIA)
*Crash data source: State Highway Administration Safety Information Database
- Distracted driving is a factor in 1 out of 4 crashes nationally.
- In 2010, over 3,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver, and nearly half a million were injured.
- More than 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone at any given moment during daylight hours.
- Research shows drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
- All Maryland drivers are prohibited from using a Cell Phone without a Hands Free Device while operating a motor vehicle. The fine for a first offense is $40 and subsequent offenses $100. The law is a secondary offense, meaning that a driver must first be committing a primary offense such as speeding or reckless driving before they are ticketed for a Cell Phone offense.
- Texting laws prohibit a person from using a text messaging device to write, send, or read a text or electronic message while operating a motor vehicle in motion or in the travel portion of the roadway; specifying exceptions for use of a global positioning system, or text messaging to contact a 9-1-1 system; etc. The activity is a misdemeanor crime. A civil penalty is imposed and a fine of not more than $500 can be enforced if convicted.
Traffic Safety Partner Countermeasures:
- Anne Arundel County Police Department and Maryland State Police conducted distracted driving enforcement with a focus on texting on Anne Arundel County roadways. Eight different initiatives occurred during the summer and fall of 2012. The methods used included high-profile SUVs, motorcycle drive-bys, and officer stop teams.
Tips to Stay Focused on the Road:
- Pull off the road to a safe area if you must make or receive a call.
- Ask a passenger to make or take a call for you.
- Do not engage in stressful or emotional conversations while driving.
- Avoid eating while driving. Finishing your breakfast on the way to work or school may seem like a time-saver, but it means you are less attentive to the drivers around you. Food spills are a major cause of distraction.
- Pull safely off the road and out of traffic to care for or manage children.
- Review maps and driving directions before hitting the road.
- Do your personal grooming at home - not in the car.
- Do not drive if you are drowsy, even if it means reworking your scheduled plans.
- If you are traveling with pets, do not allow them to sit in your lap.