One road issue needs every American’s undivided attention: distracted driving. This problem takes many forms, and in the modern age of technology-addicted drivers, it has become a more significant risk than ever. Distractions can impede a driver in more ways than just visually, and some of the most dangerous examples don’t affect drivers from outside – their lack of road skills causes them.
Knowing when and how to call a trustworthy towing company can get you out of a tight spot, but avoiding this entirely is always the best approach. This guide will help you better understand what counts as distracted driving, what you can do to avoid being affected, and who to call if you find yourself in need of towing or roadside assistance.
The 3 Types of Distracted Driving
Classifications from the DMV place distracted driving incidents into one of three groups: the visual, the manual, and the cognitive. Those few categories are responsible for thousands of accidents and hundreds of deaths on Maryland roads alone. The increase in onboard electronics and the public’s addiction to personal devices such as cellphones and tablets are only upping the distraction.
Some of the factors contributing to distracted driving will seem like common sense to avoid. Others may feel like relatively harmless habits, actions too quick to matter, or natural driving behavior. The fact is that they all carry enormous potential for harm, and the only sure thing is how fast the three main dangers can turn your world upside down:
1. Visual Distractions
A visual distraction is something that takes your eyes off the road. These include electronic devices, passenger activity, applying makeup, or looking at things outside the vehicle, such as other motorists, pedestrians, or advertising.
2. Manual Distractions
A manual distraction requires the use of your hands while driving. This could be changing the radio station, browsing a playlist, adjusting GPS, smoking, eating, or adjusting your seatbelt. These seemingly natural behaviors must not be allowed to become habits – each of them should take place before you hit the road.
3. Cognitive Distractions
A cognitive distraction is anything that takes your mind off the road. This can be something like talking to the other people in the car, daydreaming, being intoxicated on drugs or alcohol, or being drowsy.
Driving while tired is a significant cognitive distraction, impairing awareness and response time while also increasing emotional instability. Worn-out drivers are more likely to become angry and impatient on the road, which are two behaviors often linked to accidents.
The biggest threat to Maryland’s drivers is cell phones, which combine three classifications: visual, manual, and cognitive distraction. That makes them especially dangerous, causing 58% of crashes in the state, nearly 29,000 injuries, and over 230 deaths annually. Attentive driving is the surest way to avoid these and other dangers.
6 Ways to Avoid Distracted Driving
Most of these pointers for driver safety involve the vehicle being at a standstill. The others are designed to limit any distractions while in motion and make drivers think about how age is a factor.
1. Use Designated Safe Zones
Maryland has provisions for drivers who need to make or take calls or deal with other distractions. Look for road signs designating safe zones or pull into a rest stop or parking lot to take care of a pressing matter.
2. Enlist Passenger Help
Inform any passengers that you have a strict attitude toward distracted driving. Avoid distractions by designating a passenger to handle navigation, music, and other tasks.
3. Avoid Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Impaired (DWI)
Avoid driving whenever tired and plan for any rest stops that may be necessary. Understand how blood alcohol concentration (BAC) works and how Maryland views DUIs and DWIs – and never drive following alcohol consumption unless you are comfortably below recommended limits. This is a BAC of 0.7 for DWIs and 0.8 for DUIs in our state.
4. Keep a Cool Head
It doesn’t take fatigue to make a driver irritable – any motorist can go from 0 to 60 on the anger scale thanks to traffic jams, poor driving by others, or annoyances from passengers. Pull over until you are calm enough to continue. Losing your head could mean losing your license (or your life), so learn how to avoid road rage.
5. Eat, Drink, and Be Pretty Before You Leave
Drinking and snacking are visual and manual distractions (and a rumbling stomach is a cognitive one). Eat and drink before you leave, or pull over and get a meal. The same goes for applying makeup, which should always happen before departure or while your vehicle is parked.
6. Teens and Seniors Must Pay Extra Attention
Teens are considered the most distracted demographic, with 16% of all drivers under 20 years old involved in car accidents as a result. Seniors are also at higher risk of distracted driving due to difficulty managing onboard electronics and increased likelihood of being on awareness-impairing medication.
Observing which of these apply to you or those around you can lead to positive habits that make attentive driving second nature. Neglecting them will put you and your passengers at serious risk, along with those nearby.
Further Pitfalls of Distracted Driving
There are distracted driving penalties in Maryland other than potential injury and fatalities. Some of them involve losing your money; others mean losing your freedom. Consider each of these the next time you pick up your car keys:
- Maryland has an all-cellphone ban on drivers under 18, a handheld ban for all drivers in all zones, and a texting ban for all drivers. All three are primary enforcement violations, which means officers can stop or ticket you if you’re seen breaking these rules.
- Citations for distracted driving can cost $160 and add points to your license. Distracted driving with a handheld phone resulting in a crash may incur up to a year in prison plus a fine of $5,000.
- Many drivers forget the powerful example they set as parents, family members, or guardians to young passengers. Learn to control road rage and never allow distractions of any kind to compromise good sense and safety.
- Car mishaps can cost $50 to $1,500 on average to repair. Injury to drivers, passengers, or pedestrians could easily run into the thousands of dollars for medical expenses. Worst-case scenario: the cost of a funeral.
- Even one distracted driving incident can cause your auto insurance premiums to increase. They have already been climbing for a decade due to distracted driving claims.
No driver is perfect, and sometimes accidents happen through no fault of your own. The important thing is to stay calm after an accident and know what to do before calling Maryland’s leading roadside assistance team to help you out.
Stay Safe On The Road: The Distracted Driver Quiz
Call Maryland’s Roadside Experts for Help
Distracted driving is something of an epidemic that makes too many drivers a liability. This increased environment of risk means you may need a reliable towing company.
Geyers Towing and Transport has a fleet of trucks on the streets, and our licensed and trained professionals operate 24/7 to be there whenever you need towing service or roadside assistance. Contact Geyers Towing and Transport with any questions and speak to an expert today.