(Annapolis,MD)One of the most common distractions are the use of cell phones while driving. Once upon a time no matter how important a message was, you had no choice but to wait until you arrived at a place that had a phone in order to respond. Now, persons young and old answer those same messages by while driving. Annapolis Fire Chief David L. Stokes Sr. says, “If you are driving, anddo not have a hands free device, and you must answer the phone,pull off the road, and stop at a safe area. If you need to respond to a text message, pull off the road, and stop at a safe area.” Distracted driving is any activity that diverts your attention awayfrom the road, including talking, or texting on your phone, eating and drinking,fiddling with the stereo,entertainment, or navigation system.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),Texting is the most alarming distraction. sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for at least5 seconds. Texting for 5 secondsAt 55 miles per hour, islike driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.

According to a 2016-2017 report from the United States

Department of Transportation:

  • 3,450fatalities occurred as a result of distracted driving.
  • 339people died in crashes that involved distracted teen (15 to 19 years of age) drivers.
  • 263teens (15 to 19) were killed in distraction-affected crashes.
  • 303teens (15 to 19) drivers involved in fatal crasheswere distracted.

Statistics show that 15-19 yearoldsare the largest portion of drivers of any age group having distracted driving involvedcrashes. Parents and care givers need to acknowledge that they aresignificant role models, and their teens observed their driving habits. Parents want too ensure their young teendrivers are as safe as can be. Parents should emphasize the dangers of texting and driving, and also lead by way of example.When you are behind the wheel of a car, driving should be your main focus.

TheAnnapolisFire Department wants all drivers to be reminded of the dangers of texting while driving, and that in the State of Maryland it is illegal to use a cell phone while driving without the use of a hands free device.