The Ocean City Police Department is reminding citizens to be extra cautious while driving this month, as April was recently declared National Distracted Driving month.  In honor of National Distracted Driving month, the Ocean City Police Department will be increasing enforcement of distracted driving laws. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 5,474 people were killed on roadways in the United States in 2009 with an estimated 448,000 people injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving.  NHTSA also found that 16 percent of fatal crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving.  Of those people killed in distracted driving related crashes, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as the distraction.

“Distracted driving comes in various forms,” said Ocean City Police Chief Bernadette DiPino. “It can be cell phone use, texting while driving, eating, drinking, talking with passengers, as well as using in-vehicle technologies and portable electronic devices. It represents all distractions that can endanger a drivers’ safety, including the three main types of distractions, which are visual, manual and cognitive.”

While all distractions can endanger drivers’ safety, texting and cell phone use are the most alarming.  Currently, Maryland is one of nine states to ban handheld cell phone use and one of an additional 30 states to ban texting behind the wheel.  While the bill to make handheld cell phone use a primary offense in Maryland was recently turned down, it remains a secondary offense.