How to Respond to a Distracted Driver?

With nearly 600,000 Marylanders expected to hit the roads this Labor Day weekend, AAA Mid-Atlantic is reminding motorists to be careful and pay attention while traveling this holiday weekend, especially after several tragedies as well as “close calls” on Maryland roads in recent weeks.

AAA Mid-Atlantic offers the following tips to safely respond to a distracted motorist:

  • Maintain a safe distance. When you spot a distracted driver, maintain a safe distance. This gives you time to react and avoid a potential accident should the distracted driver suddenly change lanes or vehicle speed.
  • Move to the right. Moving your vehicle into the right lane (if traffic conditions allow) increases the likelihood that the distracted driver will pass your vehicle.
  • Pull over. If all else fails, leave the road at the first safe opportunity and allow the distracted driver to get ahead of you.


A recently released report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed that Americans are less likely to perceive a serious threat from dangerous driving behaviors such as drunk, aggressive or distracted driving than they were four years ago. For instance, the number of people who believe that texting or emailing while driving is a very serious threat declined from 87 percent in 2009 to 81 percent in 2012. On the other hand, the number of people who admit to texting while driving increased from 21 percent to 26 percent during the same period. “Over the last four years, motorists appear to be growing more complacent rather than becoming more concerned about potential safety risks behind the wheel, that is a danger we can ill-afford,” the spokeswoman added.

Just this week, three passengers, including two children, were killed on Route 3 near Route 32 in Anne Arundel County, when the vehicle they were in was struck in the rear by a truck, in a multi-car collision. Media reports and preliminary findings by Anne Arundel County Police indicate that “driver error” is the likely cause of the crash; however the investigation is on-going. “While it appears that everyone was properly restrained, crashes such as this show that even when one is doing everything right and driving safely, others may not be and thus, innocent lives of safe drivers and their passengers can be lost,” said Ragina C. Averella, Public and Government Affairs Manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Police released their findings of the investigation of a non-fatal crash that occurred on the Bay Bridge on July 19, which sent a motorist and her vehicle over the bridge and into the water. The MDTA Police report indicates that the crash on the Bay Bridge was “a direct result of distracted driving.” Police have cited the driver of the truck that struck 23-year old, Morgan Lake and sent her plunging in to the water, with multiple citations and fines. Fortunately, Ms. Lake survived her crash with minor injuries. “We applaud the MDTA for their handling of the investigation and for their continued efforts to make the Bay Bridge safer for all users,” stated Averella.

“Both of these incidents are tragic, but important reminders to motorists and all road users that driving is still the most dangerous thing most of us do each day. As road users, it is imperative that we pay attention while we are driving, not only for our own safety, but the safety of others,” Averella continued.

AAA Mid-Atlantic offers the following tips to help drivers stay safe:

  • Prepare for your trip in advance.
  • Ensure that your vehicle is properly maintained.
  • Give yourself ample time to reach your destination.
  • Make sure you and all of your passengers are buckled and safely restrained.
  • Obey the speed limit and other rules of the road.
  • Stay focused and attentive at all times.
  • Avoid any distractions while driving.
  • Expect the unexpected – drive defensively.
  • Be well-rested and in the appropriate mindset to drive. Driving while you are upset or angry can be just as dangerous as driving when you are tired.
  • Do not tailgate or drive aggressively.
  • Signal you intentions early enough to give others more time to prepare for your next move. Being aware of others is only half of being attentive. Make sure they are aware of you, too!
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