660,000 drivers distracted behind the wheel at any given time

Despite laws distracted driving is stil a problem

BALTIMORE - Despite warnings drivers across the U.S. continue to use electronic devices while driving.  That's the message from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in their latest report. April is distracted driving awareness month.

According to the 2011 National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) at any time during the day approximately 660,000 drivers are using their cell phones behind the wheel.  That's a number that's held steady 2010.  As more people use electronic devices while driving, there have also been more crashes.  According to separate data approximately 3,300 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011.  In all there were 387,000 reported crashes, involving a distracted driver, nationwide.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood says, "Distracted driving is a serious and deadly epidemic on America's roadways.  There is no way to text and drive safely. Powering down your cell phone when you're behind the wheel can save lives – maybe even your own."

Maryland is the latest state to make talking on a handheld device, while driving, a primary offense, meaning police can pull you over.  Ten other states have similar laws.

10 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands prohibit all

To prevent distracted driving, the Department of Transportation recommends that drivers:

·         Turn off electronic devices and put them out of reach before starting to drive.

·         Be good role models for young drivers and set a good example. Talk with your teens about responsible  driving.

·         Speak up when you are a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to make the call for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the driving task.

·         Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are the best defense against other unsafe drivers.


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