Having a long commute can take its toll on you. You may feel frustrated sitting in traffic thinking about all of the other things you could be doing, and to make up for lost time, you may try to multitask. You might eat breakfast on the way to work, so you can sleep in a little later. You might make that important phone call while driving, so you can have more time with your kids when you get home. While the temptation to multitask is understandable, your multitasking can risk your safety and the safety of others on the road.
Driving distractions can be anything that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the steering wheel or mind off the task of driving. Behaviors like these are so risky because they can increase the time it takes you to respond appropriately to situations you encounter on the road. Over 3,000 people in the United States were killed by distracted driving in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
A look at Maryland law
All driving distractions are dangerous, but cell phone use is especially dangerous because it distracts you in multiple ways at once. You must look at and hold the cell phone to use it, and you must also think about the conversation as you talk on the phone or text. Because cell phone use when driving is so risky, Maryland law makes it illegal for you to use a handheld phone while driving.
Holding your phone while driving is a primary offense, so a police officer can pull you over if he or she sees you doing so. If you were using your phone for anything other than an emergency call, you could be fined between $70 and $83 for your first violation, depending on what exactly you were doing. Additional violations or causing a crash can result in higher fines.
How to break bad habits
The best way to avoid distracted driving is to examine the types of distractions you are prone to, and look for alternatives you can live with. For example, if you usually eat breakfast in the car, set your alarm earlier to eat at home. If you frequently change the radio station, consider preprogramming your favorite stations or setting up a book on tape before you start driving. If you know you are tempted to text or talk on the phone, secure your phone in the backseat before you drive or make sure to set up a hands-free system.
Although it can be tempting to try to multitask during your commute, distracted driving is a dangerous habit. By keeping your attention on the road, you can best prepared to avoid potential collisions and other hazardous situations you may encounter during your commute.