2016-12-02 / In the Know

Scarborough police are focused on distracted drivers

By Tim Barker Special to the Leader

The Scarborough Police Department is committed to ensuring that motorists traveling on the roads of Scarborough can do so in the safest manner possible.

There are many external human elements that cannot be controlled which often result in a motor vehicle crash. Our goal is to help reduce these external elements by way of proactively patrolling and enforcing motor vehicle laws with specific consideration to distracted driving. The proactive enforcement of motor vehicle laws will ultimately reduce the amount of motor vehicle crashes which is the ultimate goal of traffic enforcement.

The Scarborough Police Department has secured a grant through the Maine Department of Public Safety for distracted driving enforcement. The grant will allow additional Scarborough police officers to patrol our roadways and enforce motor vehicle violations with specific attention to distracted driving violations.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is the lead driving force in highway safety. All data that is collected by law enforcement agencies throughout the country in crash investigations is used by NHTSA for statistical purposes. These statistics are used nationally to identify what is needed to make our highways and roadways safer for travel.

The safety administration and the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety have innovatively established nationwide programs to educate motorists on many of the issues that are directly related to crashes.

Some of the national campaigns include: One Text or Call Could Wreck it All, Click-it-or-Ticket, U Drive-U Text-U Pay, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving, You Drink-You Drive-You Lose, etc.

So what exactly is distracted driving?

The highway safety administration has defined it as anything that diverts the driver’s attention from the primary tasks of navigating the vehicle and responding to critical events.

To expand the definition; a distraction is anything that takes your eyes off the road (visual distraction), your mind off the road (cognitive distraction), or your hands off the wheel (manual distraction).

We all drive down the road and make observations of other motorists and often see types of activities that we question out loud. If we are questioning what others are doing, then why isn’t it so obvious to the other drivers that they are posing a threat to others and themselves? This is where we all need to be proactive. We need to start with ourselves as drivers. Please recognize that even the simplest task that we are doing is actually distracting to our driving abilities and is putting everyone at risk. Unless the task that you are doing is specific to the operation of a motor vehicle, than most likely you have violated a law.

What are some of the more common violations of distracted driving? Here is a non-inclusive list provided by the safety administration: texting, using a cell phone or smartphone, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading maps, using a navigation system, watching a video, adjusting a radio, having a pet on your lap, etc. Texting is the most talked about of these. The state of Maine has defined texting as: reading or manually composing electronic communication using a portable electronic communication device. More information can be found on texting while operating a motor vehicle and failing to maintain control of a motor vehicle which are the applicable Maine motor vehicle statutes that can be found at www.maine.gov.

Please help be part of the solution with distracted driving. Become educated, and help educate others. Help reduce the risk of a motor vehicle crash by compliance with these laws. The officers at the Scarborough Police Department will be visible and work diligently to enforce these laws to make the town of Scarborough a safer community.

If you have any questions about this article or about distracted driving, call Sgt. Timothy Barker at 730-4308.

Tim Barker is a sergeant with the Scarborough Police Department.

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