Maine School Bus Drivers Raise Alarm Over Surge in Distracted Driving Crashes

A middle aged man looking down at a smartphone, texting while driving with motion blur outside the car's windows.

In Maine and across the nation, distracted driving is an alarming epidemic that plagues our roads, leading to numerous serious and fatal car accidents each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving crashes resulted in 3,522 deaths across the United States in 2021.

Distracted driving can take many forms, but it essentially involves any activity that diverts a driver's attention away from the primary task of driving. The most common distractions include:

  • Visual distractions: Visual distractions involve taking your eyes off the road. This includes looking at a cellphone, reading, checking infotainment systems, and taking pictures.
  • Manual distractions: Manual distractions involve taking your hands off the steering wheel, which can impair a driver's ability to control the vehicle. This includes texting while driving, eating and drinking, reaching for something in the car, and self-grooming.
  • Cognitive distractions: Cognitive distractions involve a driver's mental focus being diverted from driving-related tasks. This can include daydreaming or talking with passengers.

While distracted driving crashes endanger all road users, a news report says they have become increasingly problematic for school buses in Maine.

Distracted driving crashes are putting school bus occupants at risk

During the early days of the school year in Maine, a concerning trend has emerged – school buses being struck by drivers. Out of five such recent incidents, three of them were the result of distracted driving.

In one particular incident, a driver collided with the back of a school bus transporting 28 students. Fortunately, no students sustained injuries.

Another distracted driving crash recently occurred in Cumberland County when a box truck collided with a school bus. The box truck driver was reportedly distracted and failed to notice that the bus was stopped.

As a result of these incidents, school bus drivers are sounding the alarm on the dangers of distracted driving. They are urging motorists to prioritize safety over distractions when they take the wheel.

A message to distracted drivers from concerned bus drivers

That includes texting, applying makeup, and even reading books. They emphasize the critical importance of maintaining focus on the road and the surroundings to ensure safety.

Alicia Hood, a school bus trainer from Westbrook, expressed her disbelief, stating, "I don't know how they can't see a big yellow bus with flashing red lights. If they were actually paying attention on the road while they're driving, they should be able to see us."

The message from these concerned drivers is crystal clear: put away cell phones, eliminate distractions, and pay undivided attention to driving.

What makes texting and driving so dangerous?

Texting while driving is widely considered the most dangerous form of distracted driving because it falls under all three categories of distraction (visual, manual, and cognitive). Using a cell phone while driving can result in:

  • Loss of visual attention: When you're texting while driving, your eyes are focused on your phone's screen, not on the road ahead. This is essentially the same as closing your eyes while driving, effectively making you blind to the traffic and obstacles in front of you.
  • Loss of concentration: Texting requires mental focus. When you're engaged in texting, your cognitive attention is diverted from driving. Just like driving blindfolded, you're unaware of your surroundings or the changing traffic conditions.
  • Loss of reaction time: Reacting to unexpected events on the road is crucial for safe driving. Texting severely impairs your reaction time, meaning you may fail to notice changes in traffic (e.g., a stopped school bus), pedestrians, and cyclists.
  • Increased stopping distance: Texting while driving increases your stopping distance. If you're not looking at the road ahead, you may be unable to stop in time to avoid a collision, especially if the vehicle in front of you suddenly brakes or comes to a stop.
  • Risk of collisions: Texting while driving dramatically increases the risk of car accidents. You're more likely to rear-end the vehicle in front of you, veer into another lane, or fail to notice stop signs and traffic lights.

Hit by a distracted driver? Contact a Maine car accident lawyer.

Distracted driving is an issue our law firm is deeply committed to addressing through initiatives like our Arrive Alive Creative Contest. Now in its 20th year, the Arrive Alive Contest aims to educate high school seniors in Maine about the risks of distracted and drunk driving.

Students can submit various creative projects to convey these messages to their peers. Prizes include a new laptop for first place, new iPads for second and third place, and all participants receive fun prizes from the law firm. Over the past 19 years, the contest has awarded over $180,000 in prizes to graduating seniors who promote safe driving practices among their peers.

If you were hit by a distracted driver, an experienced car accident attorney from the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein in Maine can fight to hold the at-fault driver accountable for your losses. We know how to investigate crashes and build strong cases for injured motorists throughout Maine.

To learn more, contact us for a free case evaluation. We have several law offices located throughout Maine, including Portland, Augusta, Bangor, Lewiston, Windham, Biddeford, and Sanford.

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