OLD TOWN- Maine’s hands-free driving law went into effect in September, But texting and driving was illegal long before that.
According to the US Department of Transportation, distracted driving was responsible for killing more than three-thousand people in 2017.
“Studies show that if a person is actively manually texting with their phone, they’re driving ability drops to a .08 impaired driver, which is the legal limit in Maine,” said Rick Tarr, a traffic safety educator.
Tarr tries to prevent people from distracted driving by having them use a simulator.
Drivers have to drop off a friend while following the rules of the road.
“We have them do it once with the phone and without the phone,” Tarr explained. “When they use the phone they can tell right away how much more difficult it was.”
During the simulation drivers have to read texts out loud before responding to them.
“Everybody kind of thinks I can get away with a quick text here and there, but I just did really poorly there,” said Gretchen Leithiser, who tried the simulator. “Definitely being able to watch the screen, see everything that was happening, keeping track of my turn signals, mirrors, and everything was so much harder trying to text back.”
Tarr said he’ll be back at the Old Town-Orono YMCA with a simulation demonstrating the importance of seat belts in April.