Memorial Day kicks off the summer driving season here in Maine. However, it is accompanied by more road construction, increased traffic congestion and higher rates of traffic fatalities.

According to the Maine Highway Safety Facts, 2018 edition, the number of crashes and fatalities increased steadily between 2014 and 2017. Additionally, preliminary 2018 data from the National Safety Council shows that for the third consecutive year, more than 40,000 people across the country died in auto crashes.

While technology may be making cars safer, the distractions that come with cellphones and other devices may also be contributing to the rise in vehicle crashes and fatalities across the country. This summer it’s important for all drivers to understand the risks of distracted driving. Putting down the phone and eliminating other distractions while driving can prevent tragedies.

Additionally, the Maine Legislature is considering a bill that would ban all drivers from holding cellphones and other electronics while behind the wheel. This legislation is needed because increasingly drivers are surfing the web, engaging on social media, streaming video, and using other apps. Current law needs go beyond simply addressing texting and must cover all drivers regardless of age.

Tackling the problem of distracted driving takes a coordinated strategy combining education, personal responsibility and enforcement to get results. We applaud the legislature for taking steps to address this problem and improve safety on our roadways.

Alison Cooper
vice president, northeast region                                                                      American Property Casualty Insurance Association
Albany, New York

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