Shut Up and Drive
Today, talking on the phone while driving is only a secondary offense, which means a police officer cannot pull you over for just talking on the phone. However a police officer can pull you over if they see you texting and driving.
As of October 1st 2013 you can no longer talk on your phone without the use of a hands-free or Bluetooth device. And no, putting your phone in your lap on speaker is not hands-free. A police officer will now have the right to pull you over at any time if they see you with your phone in hand. Regardless if you are talking on the phone, e-mailing, texting, googling, etc. It doesn’t matter. In fact you can be pulled over even if you are stopped at a red light. and you can be ticketed up to $500!
Get the picture? Stop using your phones while driving! If the engine is on, the phone is away.
In Maryland alone from 2007-2011, 152,000 have been injured in accidents involving distracted driving and about 1,100 of those people were killed. Distracted driving has become the number ONE killer of American teens. And as a teen driver myself I am happy this law is finally going into effect.
Many people have the assumption that just because many people my age (which is 16) have been accused of it, that I do it also. Well it’s not true. When I get into my car the very first thing I do is put my phone into the glove box where I cannot reach it. I know I’m not the only person who drives on Maryland roads and is next to or behind a car that is all over the road and wondering, “What on Earth is that person doing? They’re going to cause an accident!” and surely enough you look over and what are they doing? TEXTING!
Or they are on the phone with someone. It’s not just teen drivers which everyone assumes. It’s drivers of all ages and most of the teen drivers I guarantee you learned and picked up the habit from watching their parent’s. Fortunately for me, I don’t use my phone while I’m driving, even after watching and still watching my parent’s do it.
Without even realizing it, the average distracted driver will drive the length of a football field without looking at the road. You are 1.4x more at risk of being in an accident just by reaching for a device, 1.3x talking or listening, 2.8x dialing, and 23x more likely to be involved in an accident if you are texting while driving! Sadly, distracted driving has become an epidemic and needs to be stopped, because things are only going to get worse. Hopefully this new law will help bring those numbers down and raise awareness about putting the phone down. Unfortunately, it’s grown to be a habit for some people and this law still won’t stop them probably until they get pulled over and their phone bill is $500 more… And on top of that, their car insurance
may go up as a result of the ticket.
What can you do to help? I beg you to go to http://www.stoptextsstopwrecks.org/
today and share this with your loved ones.
In the meantime, here are a few suggestions to reduce the risky behavior while driving:
1. Put the phone out of reach. No phone means no calling or texting.
2. Make sure one passenger is the “designated texter.”
3. Turn off the phone’s sound notifications – reduce reflexive need to check incoming messages.
4. Buy one of several mobile apps that cuts off texting while the car is moving
Please remember the new law that goes into effect each time you get into the car. And from now on, think about the example you’re setting for your children, and always remember… It can wait, so shut up and drive.