April is designated as Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the National Safety Council. Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving. Sheriff Mike Evans has initiated several educational and enforcement initiatives in various locations of the county. In 2015 Maryland experienced 108 distracted driving fatal crashes. The Sheriff added, “Our goal will always remain to have zero traffic related deaths in Calvert County.” Distracted driving safety tips include:
- All drivers are encouraged to only use cell phones after safely pulling over.
- If you are drowsy, pull off of the road.
- Limit the number of passengers, as well as the level of activity inside the vehicle
- Avoid eating while driving.
- Do your multi-tasking outside of the car
Maryland law prohibits the use of a handheld cell phone and texting while driving. Specifically, the law states, “A driver of a motor vehicle that is in motion may not use the driver’s hands to use a handheld telephone other than to initiate or terminate a wireless telephone call or to turn on or turn off the handheld telephone.” First time offenders face an $83 fine, second time offenders a $140 fine, and third time offenders a $160 fine. Drivers can also be ticketed for writing, sending, or reading a text or electronic message while driving. Drivers who violate this portion of the law receive a fine of $70 and one point assessed to their Maryland driver’s license. If the action results in an accident the fine can be increased to $110 and three points. If the action causes serious injury or death the person may receive a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine of up to $5000 (Jakes Law).