Western Maryland distracted driver campaign resulted in law enforcement agencies issuing more than 2,000 citations in April, according to a press release from Maryland State Police.
With April being National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the Frederick barrack of Maryland State Police worked with the Maryland Highway Safety Office and several law enforcement agencies in Frederick, Washington, Allegany and Garrett County in April to launch a campaign to curb distracted driving as well as enforce seat belt laws.
Distracted driving can involve any activity that takes attention from driving, such as eating and drinking, talking to passengers or adjusting the radio.
The agencies issued a combined total of 2,061 citations for cellular phone use while driving and 1,010 warnings. The agencies also produced 609 citations and 590 warnings. Seat belt fines and fines for using a cell phone while driving are $83, and there are no points associated with either charge.
According to the Maryland Highway Safety Office, distracted driving contributes to 58 percent of crashes in the state. Distracted drivers in Maryland cause more than 27,000 injuries and 185 deaths each year. Maryland State Police has cited studies that suggest traffic fatalities from distracted driving have surpassed fatalities resulting from drunk driving.
The Maryland Highway Safety Office reports that 90 percent of Marylanders wear their seat belts. But, the 10 percent of motorists who do not wear seat belts make up 42 percent of the motorists who die in traffic collisions in Maryland, according to a 2017 study.
With April marking the fifth year Maryland State Police has participated in the distracted driving campaign, the number of citations and warnings issued dropped significantly.
In 2018, Maryland State Police issued more than 2,900 citations and nearly 2,600 warnings for distracted violations, according to previous reports in the Frederick News-Post. The agency issued 16,050 citations and 18,671 warnings in all of 2018.