AUGUSTA — The Department of Public Safety’s Bureau of Highway Safety (MeBHS) is joining the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and others to remind drivers that driving distracted is dangerous and illegal and 100 percent preventable.
“If you need to text, need to attend to children, or pick up that dropped item, pull over to a safe place, park, and conduct your business. No call, text or other distraction is worth risking your life or taking someone else’s life,” said Bureau Director Lauren Stewart.
According to a MeBHS press release, more than 3,100 people lost their lives due to distracted driving in America in 2020. Over the past decade, distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes on our nation’s roads. Each year in Maine, on average, distracted driving results in more than 3,446 crashes, more than 535 injuries and approximately 45 deaths.
Law enforcement agencies around the state will be on the lookout for distracted drivers while supporting the national campaign beginning April 7 and ending on April 11. Violating Maine’s distracted-driving laws can be costly. A first offense will be $50, but the second and subsequent violations will be $250.
Many drivers are guilty of a double standard when it comes to distracted driving. In its 2018 Traffic Safety Culture Index, the AAA Foundation reported that while nearly 96 percent of drivers believed it was very or extremely dangerous to read a text or email while driving, four out of ten drivers admitted to doing so within the previous 30 days.
MeBHS tips for a safe driving experience:
Ask your passenger to be your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
Ask your passenger to be on the lookout for other drivers who may not be paying attention.
Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.
Cell phone use is habit-forming. Struggling to not text and drive? Activate the phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature, or put the phone in the trunk, glove box or back seat of the vehicle.