April 7, 2014

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Courtesy: Frederick News Post

Distracted driving — using hand-held cellphones, changing radio stations and eating — are leading causes of traffic crashes both nationally and in Maryland, according to the Motor Vehicle Administration, so the agency is supporting efforts to encourage focused driving.

“We’re doing a lot of outreach through our social media,” said spokesman Buel Young.

An average of 250 people died each year across the state from 2008 to 2012, according to the MVA, due to driver distraction. More than 30,000 were injured.

Police will step up distracted-driving enforcement throughout April.

The city of Frederick recently approved a $5,000 grant from the Maryland Highway Safety Office to allow overtime for the Frederick Police Department as patrols increase.

Distracted-driving enforcement efforts are not limited to the month of April.

In February, the Maryland State Police Frederick Barrack mounted a special enforcement effort at I-70 and Md. 75. Officers stopped 27 people during the morning commute who were talking on their cellphones.

Adults use phone while driving more than teens

The conversation around distracted driving has a tendency to center on young, inexperienced drivers. However, a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey found that 43 percent of adults aged 25 to 39 reported using a cellphone often while driving in the last month, and 20 percent of teens reported doing so.

Drivers older than 60 were the least likely to report using a phone while driving regularly. Around 15 percent of respondents older than 60 said they talked and drove often.

Texting while driving was less common than talking on the phone, according to the survey. More than a quarter of those surveyed said they frequently talked on the phone, and 6 percent said they were habitual texters.