Recently in Texting While Driving Category

July 2, 2013

New Texting While Driving Law in Virginia As of July 1, 2013

Texting while driving has become a primary offense in Virginia as of July 1, 2013, which means police can pull motorists over if they see them texting, and drivers with provisional licenses will face changes in the limits on how many passengers may ride with them at one time. The new texting while driving law will allow police to pull over and ticket offenders and it will also stiffen the fines for offenders. A warning may also be issues, but that is left up to the officer to decide.

Also, drivers under the age of 18 who have had provisional licenses for at least a year will be allowed up to three passengers younger than 21, but only when going to or from school activity, with passenger 21 or older in the front seat or in an emergency. In other words, if you've had your license less than a year, only one person under the age of 21 can ride with you at a time unless they are family or if it's a result of a school activity or function.

June 18, 2013

Keep Your Eyes On the Road

There is a major disconnect between your eyes and your brain when a person is driving but on the phone. Be it the person is answering a phone call, imputing and address into a GPS or even using a voice-activated application to send text messages or chat. This is called a cognitive distraction, that most drivers are not aware is taking place.

A two-year study conducted by the University of Utah and sponsored by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety determined that technology developed to enhance the safety of text messaging while driving is not very effective. The study found that interacting with the speech-to-text system was the most cognitive distraction to drivers on the road, when compared to other forms of distracted driving. Therefore; the voice-based systems intended to keep drivers more safe and less distracted from driving is doing the opposite.

When the study was conducted, over a two year period, driving simulators and on-road testing was done. Test subjects wore a helmet of electrode wires to test how the brain reacts to distractions that arise for drivers and their ability to stay focused on the road. Each distraction caused a change in the brain and these changes were marked through graphs on a computer. The data showed, that the more complicated and absorbing a task, the greater the distraction, to the driver on the road. The longer it took for a driver to complete a conversation, send a message, or set a destination on a GPS, the worse the distraction was on the driver, as graphed by the computer.

Another problem that the study determined was something called "inattention blindness". Inattention blindness is when a person sees something but doesn't register it. It means that when distracted, it takes a driver longer to connect what he or she sees to an appropriate reaction while driving. This means that, it takes a driver, longer to break or swerve to safety.

In 2011, federal data showed that distracted driving was a factor in about 10 percent of the fatal accidents reported, nationwide that year. Nationally, it was also reported, in 2011, that 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.

In other words, anything that distracts a driver from the task of safe driving creates a risk. 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of close calls came about after a driver took their eyes off the road.

Sending and receiving text messages topped the list of driver distractions. Therefore; texting while driving, has been banned in 41 states, including Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. In addition, the District and 11 states, which include Maryland but not Virginia, have also prohibited the use of hand-held cell phones.

In conclusion, it was determined that as distractions increase reaction time slows down, brain function is compromised and drivers scan the road less and miss visual cues more. Minor tasks; such as listening to the radio, are considered minimal risks, while responding to voice activated email features, that are built into vehicles, ranked as the highest distraction.

October 25, 2012

No Correlation between Car Accidents and Size of Cities

Frequency of Car Accidents is completely unrelated to the size of the city in which you live in. A recent report released by the automobile insurance Allstate, which was conducted in various major cities has come to show that the size of the city does not directly influence the likelihood of an automobile crash. The report is titled "Allstate America's Best Drivers Report". The report states that the District of Columbia and Baltimore, Maryland have the shortest time between accidents, while Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Boise, Idaho and Fort Collins, Colorado have the longest periods between accidents. Therefore; Allstate considers Sioux Falls drivers the "safest drivers" in the United States.

Living in a larger city does not necessarily mean you are at a higher risk of being involved in an automobile accident. Car accidents are a major health hazard, regardless of where you live, because they are the leading cause of death for persons between 5-24 years of age. In 2009, 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers ended up in emergency rooms as a result of automobile crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2011, the U.S. saw the fewest number of automobile fatalities since 1949, but that still meant that 32,000 people were killed.

Accidents can happen anywhere and at any time. It is up to the driver to stay alert, follow driving laws, not drink and drive, wear their safety belts and not text or talk on a handheld device while driving.

September 10, 2012

Dangers of Distracted Driving

The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) has published the following video regarding distracted driving and how it can and does cause a lot of automobile accidents. The Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) also helped and participated in the making of this video. The video was created because 152,000 people were injured as a result of distracted driving between 2007 and 2011. Out of these 152,000 people injured, 1,100 of them were killed as a result.

April 10, 2012

Women Drivers More Dangerous Behind the Wheel

In research obtained by scientists at the University of Michigan who analyzed 6.5 million automobile crashes between 1998 and 2007, it was determined that women are more likely to be involved in automobile accidents than men. In this study, it was found that women were involved in 68.1% of all crashes, even though men drive 60% of the time and women 40%.

The research also uncovered that women have a more difficult time at crossroads, T-junctions and slippery roads/surfaces. Women are most often involved in accidents were their vehicles are hit on the left-hand side while attempting right hand turns and vice-versa. Height difference between men and woman is also considered a factor. The peripheral vision while driving is different for women when compared to men, because of their height and in turn their sitting position in the driver seat of their vehicle.

According to Lead researcher at the University of Michigan, Dr. Michael Sivak, "There are three dominant driver-related factors, including the probability of being at the wrong place at the wrong time, one's own driving skills and the driving skills of the other driver involved."

Women are taking greater risks while driving now than they ever were. Women are now more distracted while driving, these distractions involve: drinking and driving, speeding, texting, etc. Therefore, the risk of being involved in a fatal automobile crash rises with the driver's blood alcohol levels. Women need to pay more attention when behind the wheel and realize that anything can happen, if one is not careful and attentive to ones surroundings. It is our own responsibility to stay as safe as possible and conduct ourselves in a safe manner when behind the wheel. One must remember that Driving is a Privilege and not a Right!

February 27, 2012

NHTSA Proposes New Distracted Driving Guidelines in D.C.

GPS.jpgOn February 16, 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation proposed a new set of guidelines for distracted-driving, because in 2010, there were over 3,000 deaths as a result of distracted driving in the U.S..

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the guidelines would "not allow manual text messaging, internet browsing, social media, navigation destination entries, 10 digit phone dialing or displaying more than 30 character of texts unrelated to the driving task while the vehicle is in motion." The proposed guidelines would recommend auto makers to disable in-vehicle electronic devices (which include texting and hands-free cellphone calling) that are currently available to drivers while the vehicle is in motion. The guidelines would affect General Motors On-Star, Chryslers UConnect, and Fords Sync Technology, mostly.

There will be hearings in Washington, D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles in the next 60 days, for the automobile industries and the public to comment on the proposal set out by the U.S. Department of Transportation. After the 60 days, the NHTSA will issue the final guidelines.

January 30, 2012

Teen Automobile Related Fatalities on the Rise in Virginia

eating while driving.jpgBetween January 1, 2012 and January 24, 2012 there have been 11 teen automobile related fatalities in Virginia. At the same time period in 2011 there were only three. This is a huge increase that could be avoided if certain precautions were taken. The most common factors in the fatal automobile crashes are speed, distractions, alcohol, no use of seat belts and cell phone use.

Virginia safety organizations are urging teen drivers, as well as their parents, to take precautions to prevent further tragedies. Some of the precautions suggested are:
Teens:
- Obey posted speed limits;
- Do not Text, Talk or use handheld devices while driving;
- Do not drive distracted by changing radio stations, eating or by having too many passengers in the vehicle;
- Commit to driving safely;
- Always wear your seat belt.

Parents:
- Talk to your teen about the dangers of speeding and driving distracted;
- Set clear rules for driving and let them know that it is a privilege and not a right. They need to earn the privilege and that there are consequences to their actions;
- Set curfews, passenger limitations and make clear the punishment if these rules are broken.

Schools and Safety Organizations:
- Discuss the increase in teen fatalities, so that they are aware;
- Educate students on safe driving practices through interactive methods. Use visual displays, videos, guest speakers and programs;
- Post seat belt reminders and no cell phone use signs all over school property and all parking areas.

For more safety tips and information, visit the following websites: www.yovaso.net and www.blueridgecrashteams.org

December 16, 2011

Automobile Related Fatalities Decreased in Maryland in 2010

774604_car_accident_1.jpgThe number of automobile accident related fatalities decreased by about 10 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2009 to 2010. In 2009, there were 549 automobile accident related fatalities and in 2010 there were only 493. The reason there was a decrease is because there are better air bags and anti-rollover technology in newer vehicles, drivers are using their seatbelts properly and more often and there has been an improvement in safe-driving campaigns in the state of Maryland, according to the AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Another factor for the decrease is that Maryland police officers and other law enforcement officers have been cracking down more on drunk drivers. Repeat offenders have had to install start up kits/breathalyzer machines in their vehicles that do not allow the vehicle to start/turn on if there is alcohol in their system.

Also, speed limits are followed more by drivers because of red light and speed cameras all over the state of Maryland. Therefore, drivers are respecting the speed limit in certain areas more. Another factor is that in the state of Maryland it is prohibited to use a handheld device while driving. Be it for talking on the phone, texting, viewing messages or communicating through media outlets while driving.

When you consider all these factors, one can better understand how there has been a 10 percent decrease in automobile accident related fatalities in Maryland. One can only hope that there has been a bigger decrease in 2011.

October 3, 2011

New Traffic Laws Implemented in MD As of October 1, 2011

Distracted Driving.jpgAs of October 1, 2011 Maryland Police Officers are allowed to pull drivers over for text messaging. Sending, receiving and reading text messages while behind the wheel will now be considered a primary offense. Which means, that Police, can now pull over and ticket drivers who are caught sending, receiving or reading text messages without their needing to be any other offense committed. Emergency 911 text messaging is exempt from this new law.

Under the new text messaging law, violators, can be fined up to $70 and receive one point toward suspension of a driver's license. If, an automobile accident or pedestrian/automobile accident is resulted from text messaging the fine will increase to $110 and three points towards the suspension of a driver's license.

This same law is in effect in the District of Columbia, but it is still only a secondary offense in Virginia.

Another new Maryland traffic law going into effect as of October 1, 2011, is that criminal prosecution will be allowed of drivers who are considered negligent in pedestrian and bicyclists deaths. Under this new traffic law, it will be considered a misdemeanor for a person to cause the death of another as a result of the person's driving, operating or controlling a vehicle in a criminal negligent manner.

These two new Maryland traffic laws are being implemented because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 20 percent of crashes in 2009 were cause by distracted drivers, of which, 995 fatal crashes involved drivers distracted by cell phone use.

June 14, 2011

Hand-held Devices Primary and Secondary Laws for the District of Columbia, MD and VA

Man talking on the phone while driving.jpgIn order to make the roads safer, hand-held devices and/or texting have been banned from 33 states on the District of Columbia. Each of these states and the district have specific laws, and they are listed below. Some are primary law and some are secondary laws. A Primary law means that a police officer can ticket the driver for the offense without any other traffic offense taking place. A Secondary law means that a police officer can only give you a ticket if you have been pulled over for another driving violation. Novice drivers are those individuals under the age of 18 with learner's permits and/or individuals with provisional licenses.

In the District of Columbia:
Primary Law:
- Handheld ban for all drivers;
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers;
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers;
- Ban on texting for all drivers.

In Maryland:
Primary Law:
- Ban on texting for all drivers;
Secondary Law:
- Handheld ban for all drivers effective October 1, 2010;
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers.

In Virginia:
Primary Law:
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers;
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers;
- Ban on texting for all bus drivers;
Secondary Law:
- Ban on texting for all drivers