Marquett Smith is President of Verizon Wireless for the Washington/Baltimore/Virginia Region
As of October 1, Maryland will join the growing list of states that have made it illegal to talk on a hand-held mobile phone while driving. Unlike the hand-held phone law that lawmakers passed in 2010, where you could only be pulled over for cell phone use if police also witnessed another violation, now you can be stopped and ticketed for that offense alone.
Distracted driving is a real issue that impacts millions of people annually. According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, 58 percent of vehicle crashes in 2012 involved a distracted driver, and nearly half of the estimated 511 total fatalities were due to a distracted driver.
As this new legislation goes into effect in Maryland, I encourage you to go hands free and take the #ItCanWait pledge.
A large percentage of teens and young adults are driving while distracted and 77% think they can do it safely. Reaching for or dialing a device, however, significantly increases the risk of a crash and text messaging makes a crash up to 23 times more likely.
But this issue isn’t just about teens. An increasing number of adults text and drive, endangering themselves and others on the road while also setting a bad example for the young drivers observing them from the backseat.
Even when you know the facts about texting and driving, it can be hard not to check or respond to messages while you're on the road.
Thanks to innovative apps like Safely Go and DriveSafe.ly, your cell phone can automatically reply to texts and calls when you’re driving or read messages aloud, allowing you to respond verbally and without removing your hands from the wheel.
Mobile phones are essential to everyday life and many of us like to keep ours within reach at all times. But we can't allow them to be a distraction behind the wheel.