Md.’s ‘Drive Safely Work Week’ goes back to basics

WASHINGTON – People spend a lot of time driving in cars without thinking too much about it.

But there’s a big reason to stay alert.

“(It’s) the most dangerous time that most people will have during the course of their day,” says Lora Rakowski, spokeswoman for Maryland’s State Highway Administration. “Every 18 hours, a person was killed on Maryland roads last year.”

The administration is partnering with this year’s Drive Safely Work Week. Rakowski says the focus is on the basics.

“Your number one defense in a crash is your seat belt,” she says.

Other safety points include staying alert in parking lots, keeping both hands on the wheel and staying focused.

In addition to texting or talking on the phone while driving, Rakowski says there are two other forms of distraction. Manual distraction is when drivers actually take their hands off the steering wheel. Cognitive distraction is when drivers simply allow their thoughts to wander.

The safety campaign is also focusing on employers by encouraging them to think about the dangers of drowsy workers.

“Make adjustments in your schedule so that you’re not driving exhausted, because this can delay reaction time and be just as hazardous as driving under the influence,” Rakowski says.

If it has been a decade or two since a person has taken driver education classes, she says now is a good time to review and fine-tune the fundamentals.

“It’s getting darker sooner, so please be on the alert for pedestrians as well as bicyclists,” she says. “Fatal crashes tend to trend a little higher in October.”

WTOP’s Max Smith contributed to this report. Follow Max and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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