April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in the USA, and although Marylanders may currently only leave their homes to perform essential work, seek vital medical care and obtain food, it remains imperative to stay vigilant when driving. Although distracted driving in Annapolis and the state as a whole has declined in recent years, more than 56,000 crashes involving a distracted drivers are still recorded annually. The roads in or area may be significantly quieter at present, but this does not make the possible consequences of distracted driving any less severe.
Despite the law in Maryland prohibiting the use of cellphones while driving, many drivers choose to gamble with not only their own lives, but those of others as well. When getting behind the wheel of a car, refrain from making or answering calls, browsing the internet, and sending and reading text messages. Any driver found breaking the no-cellphone law could find themselves ticketed, fined and in need of legal representation should the distracted behavior result in a collision. Maryland lawmakers are very adamant to curb distracted driving. In December 2019, Montgomery County Councilman Tom Hucker requested StateSenator Jeff Waldstreicher to file a bill that would allow for the installation of automatic cameras that will catch drivers on their phones.
In November last year, a drunk driver rammed her car into a Roly Poly Sandwich shop in Annapolis, and a man passed away in December after being struck down by a drunken driver. While drunk driving is not typically classified as distracted driving, it does also cause a driver to not pay the necessary attention to the road and his surroundings. In 2018, Maryland ranked 27th overall for drunken driving rates, with 308.7 DUI-related arrests occurring per 100,000 people. Any driver found guilty of driving under the influence can face severe criminal penalties as well as license sanctions. In Maryland, exceeding a limit of .07 qualifies you for a DWI (Driving While Impaired), while a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) is .08. This equates to a 180-pound man drinking no more than four light beers, and a 120-pound woman, no more than two.
Under current conditions, the greater part of the Annapolis community should be spending the majority of their time at home, which will leave very little need to eat while driving. Unless you’re a first responder, there should not be any reason to eat in a stationary car, let alone while you are driving. Food and drink spills have been found to be a huge cause of distraction. Even just taking your eyes off the road for what seems like a split-second, it is long enough to veer off the road or collide with another vehicle. Where possible, eat and drink before or after a trip, and at the very least, avoid hot drinks and messy foods that are hard to manage.
Distracted driving claims many lives in and around Annapolis every year. The best way to avoid becoming yet another statistic is to steer clear of any possible behaviors that could take your attention away from the road.