According to the Maryland Department of Transportation, distraction leads to more than 28,000 injuries a year in our state alone. In an attempt to reduce the number of accidents caused by distraction, all handheld cellphone use is illegal while driving in Maryland. But, while these types of laws are well-intentioned, they tend to miss the larger point: cellphone use is only one type of distraction – and there is no evidence that hands-free devices are safer. In fact, there is ample evidence that using hands-free, Bluetooth, and onboard electronics while driving is actually more dangerous than using a handheld cellphone.
Talking or typing on a handheld phone is, of course, a major form of distraction. No less distracting are handsfree options, including talk to text and voice-activated entertainment controls. Even still, electronic distraction is only one type of many forms of this dangerous driving behavior that commonly leads to serious or fatal car accidents in Maryland.
Distracted driving can include:
- Eating or drinking
- Personal grooming, including brushing hair and applying makeup
- Looking at a map or manipulating a GPS unit
- Browsing through radio stations
- Switching between songs on a portable music device
- Reading billboards
Literally anything that takes your eyes or mind off of the road is a form of distraction, and every time you engage in this behavior, you and everyone around you is at risk for injury or death.
There is no safe level of distraction. Many people believe they can multitask, but this is not true. All evidence points to this same fact: no one can multitask well. Not anyone. This means that doing anything besides driving while you are driving is a risk. And that risk is translating to more and more accidents every year.
In 2016, the last year for which full statistics are available, there were 3,450 distracted driving-related fatalities in the United States, up 2.2% from 2015. An average of 9 people dies every day in distraction-related car accidents. 1,000 more sustain injury in crashes caused by distracted drivers every day in the U.S. This number is set to continue rising so long as distraction remains unchecked.
Distracted Driving Awareness Month
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, giving you a wonderful opportunity to educate yourself on the dangers of distracted driving and to make changes in your own behavior that place you and those you share the road with at risk.
The easiest and most effective way to avoid distraction is to commit to paying attention.
- Turn your phone off while you are driving
- Program GPS and choose a station/playlist before you begin driving
- Do not smoke while driving
- Do not eat in your car
- Do not apply makeup, brush your teeth or hair, or shave in your car
- Do not read in your car
These things seem like common sense and yet car accidents related to distraction in Maryland are on the rise. If you or someone you love is the victim of one of these accidents, call Cohen & Dwin at 800-692-2500 to schedule a free consultation and learn how we may be able to help you get compensation for all related damages.