Distracted driving, as defined by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is defined as any type of action that distracts you from the road. This could include eating and drinking, talking to others in your car, reaching for the car stereo or navigation system, putting on makeup, and of course, talking or texting on the phone.
Whenever your eyes aren’t on the road or your mind is in a different place, that qualifies as distracted driving—anything that will potentially cause you to get into an accident.
It should be no surprise that texting is the leading cause of distracted driving, which in turn contributes to a whopping 58 percent of all crashes in Maryland.
Let’s put texting in perspective.
The Maryland Highway Safety Office reports that 27,000 individuals are injured as a result of distracted driving and 185 people die every year in Maryland.
If so, you’re in the group of people that is directly affecting fatality rates.
How dangerous is texting, really?
Short answer: it can be very dangerous. The average driver takes their eyes off the road for about five seconds when they are distracted. The NHTSA compares this to “covering the length of a football field while driving blindfolded if you are driving 55 mph.”
What are the consequences of texting and driving in Maryland?
- If you’re a first-time offender, you’ll face an $83 fine.
- Second-time offenders receive a $140 fine.
- Third-time offenders receive a $160 fine maximum.
If you’re caught texting and driving, you may also be fined $70 as well as receive a point on your license.
In the event that using your phone contributes to an accident, that fine could increase to $110, and three points will be tacked onto your record. For instances of serious injury or death caused by distracted driving, that driver could spend up to 3 years in prison, as well as be required to pay up to a $5,000 fine.
The Maryland Highway Safety Office provides tips and recommendations for staying focused on the road:
- You should limit the number of passengers you drive. If you’re driving with very noisy passengers, ask them to tone it down.
- Only use your phone for emergencies.
- Don’t eat and drive, put on makeup and drive, or other activities—if you’re running late to work, try to leave earlier to save yourself the hassle.
- If you’re feeling sleepy, get off the road.
It’s not too late to start driving differently.
Using speakerphones, Bluetooth, and talk to text are all easy options for keeping your eyes off the phone and on the road.
One part of your different driving should be comprehensive insurance coverage for your car. You can take proactive measures to become a less distracted driver, but you can’t guarantee that all other drivers on the road will do the same. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and in the instance that you do get into an accident, you’ll want a comprehensive car insurance plan that will protect you.
Don’t become a statistic—texting and driving is not worth the risk—neither is that “lol” you’re sending back to a friend. Texting can always wait.