Maryland State Police steps up efforts to stop distracted drivers

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness month and Maryland State Police is stepping up efforts to stop distracted drivers.

Troopers will increase their distracted driving enforcement patrols and awareness, and they will work with other law enforcement agencies, state police said. In addition to the focus on distracted driving, seat belt enforcement will be a priority, according to a Maryland State Police news release.

“Any time drivers take their eyes off the road to use a phone, eat, put on makeup or change the radio station, they are driving blind,” Maryland State Police said in the release. “Looking down at a phone to read a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of five seconds — at 55 mph, that is equivalent to driving the length of three football fields — all without looking.”

Handheld cellphones and texting while driving is prohibited in the state, with fines ranging from $83 to a maximum $160 for repeat offenders.

Also, writing, sending or reading a text or message while driving can lead to a $70 fine and a point on the driving record. Penalties may increase if use of the device leads to a crash, injury or death.

Here are some tips from the Motor Vehicle Administration and AAA Mid-Atlantic to help drivers avoid being distracted:

  • Pull over from travel lanes and park in a safe location to send a text message.
  • Let your passenger respond to any messages while driving.
  • Move over or slow down when you see stopped, standing or parked vehicles displaying warning signals.
  • Don’t use social media while driving.
  • Pull over to eat or drink.
  • Put your phone in the back seat, glove box or trunk if you have the urge to use it.
  • Tell your family members or friends to get off their phones while driving.

Maryland State Police said they issued 4,352 distracted driving citations in the first three months of 2023. They issued 21,757 citations in 2022.

Distracted driving causes more than 24,000 injuries and 200 deaths on Maryland roads each year, according to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, adding that distracted driving contributes to 48% of all Maryland crashes.

Tadiwos Abedje

Tadi Abedje is a freelance digital writer/editor for WTOP. He was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Northern Virginia. Journalism has been his No. 1 passion since he was a kid and he is blessed to be around people, telling their stories and sharing them with the world.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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