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National Distracted Driving Awareness Month Sparks State Police Increased Patrols

| April 11, 2014

DistractedDrivingRedefined from WAGM-TV on Vimeo.

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Maine State police have joined a nationwide effort to reduce auto accidents that result when drivers don’t pay attention to the road. April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. State Police and the Bureau of Highway Safety met in Augusta today to redefine what distracted driving means and to increase awareness.  We spoke with a State Police Sergeant for more on the issue.

This picture of the accident featured in the video was a result of distracted driving.   It happened a few months ago in Bridgewater where the driver of the vehicle was using a phone and struck a potato truck in a breakdown lane on Route 1.  Distracted driving is something Maine State police take very seriously.

Sgt. Brian L. Harris, “It’s very important to us because studies have shown, nationally, that distracted driving is often times more serious – result in more serious accidents than drunk driving.”

Normally people think of distracted driving as texting or talking with a cell phone. That’s usually a misconception, and that’s why State police are joining the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in bringing awareness to what else defines distracted driving.

Sgt.. Brian L. Harris, “It could be anything from eating, reading, having a pet in your lap that’s hampering your ability to drive a vehicle, texting, reading emails, composing, even talking on the phone.”

Sergeant Harris says the State of Maine doesn’t have a no talking while driving law, but if a traffic violation is committed due to talking on your phone, the law says that’s a failure to maintain control of a motor vehicle. So you can end up with two citations. The important intiative taking place this month though is to bring awareness.

Sgt. Brian L. Harris, “We’re kicking off a program where we’re going to be increasing our patrols and watching speciffically for these violations with any number of enforcement tactics.”

The emphasis state police want to make this month is on the most common distracted driving violation, which is texting.

Sgt. Brian L. Harris, “Unfortunately most of us have seen it whether stopped at a stop light or passing somebody going down the interstate where you look over and they’re obviously looking down and texting on the phone.”

And yes, distracted driving does include taking selfies, if a traffic violation occurs because of it.


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