Distracted driving continues to cost lives on Maryland roads

This article looks at the toll distracted driving takes in Maryland and why hands-free devices are not always safe.

Distracted driving continues to plague Maryland's roads and highways, costing hundreds of lives and resulting in thousands of injuries every year, according to 47 ABC News. Despite being one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents, distracted driving remains prevalent. Furthermore, recent research suggests that some technology that was meant to address the problem of distracted driving may itself be leading drivers to take their minds off the road.

Distraction-free devices?

Hands-free technology is often thought of as being less distracting than cellphones and other handheld devices. However, as CBS Baltimore notes, a recent study by the AAA suggests that those technologies, most of which are voice activated, could be just as distracting as cellphones.

The study found that depending on the complexity and ease-of-use of a particular hands-free system, drivers can remain mentally distracted by such devices for up to 27 seconds after using them. In other words, although drivers appear to have their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel, their mind is engaged with the hands-free system. The problem is compounded by the fact that some hands-free systems can have difficulty understanding voice commands, which in turn leads to frustration on the part of drivers and less of a focus by them on the road. The study's authors say that drivers should use such systems sparingly and that manufacturers should work to ensure hands-free devices are truly distraction-free.

Distracted driving in Maryland

The study is important since it provides further insight into what has become one of the greatest dangers when driving. In Maryland alone, distracted driving crashes kill about 230 people every year, according Motor Vehicle Administration figures. Furthermore, 28,000 people are injured in the state in distracted driving crashes.

Police point out that distracted driving can take many forms, including eating, changing the radio, or reaching for objects. Of course, in recent years the proliferation of smartphones and handheld devices has largely fueled the growth of the problem. Such devices now allow drivers to not only talk while driving, but to also read and send text messages or even surf the web. While a quick look at a text message may seem harmless, experts note that the few seconds it takes to read a text message is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blindfolded.

Motor vehicle accidents

The vast majority of motor vehicle accidents are entirely preventable and are caused by the poor choices that some drivers make. Distracted driving is just one example of how bad driving can lead to accidents and unnecessary deaths and injuries. Anybody who has been involved in an accident that may have been caused by another driver's negligence or recklessness should contact a personal injury attorney. Such an attorney can advocate on behalf of injured victims and may be able to help them claim important financial compensation for their ordeal.