BALTIMORE, Maryland (WJZ)-- Doctors at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma see about 8,000 patients each year.
Many of those patients come after being involved in accidents that could have been prevented, crashes caused by distracted drivers.
"Driving is a full-time job. They think it's OK to do other stuff while driving, and the message is very clear, that's not OK," said Dr. Thomas Scalea, UMMC Shock Trauma chief surgeon.
Scalea joined other trauma doctors from across the state to recognize May as Distracted Driving Month.
"Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 and more than one million injured as a result of crashes directly related to distracted driving," said Dr. Dany Westerband, Suburban Hospital.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers who use hand-held devices like cell phones or Blackberries are four times more likely to get into crashes and seriously injure themselves.
"We can make a huge difference in reduction in crashes and improve roadway safety," said one Marylander.
And a study out of the University of Utah found using a cell phone behind the wheel delays a driver's reaction as much as having a blood alcohol level of .08.
Operators at the Maryland Emergency Medical Services Communication Center dispatch emergency vehicles when these distracted driving accidents occur.
They're resources Scalea says could be better used elsewhere.
"It's a source of significant frustration. This is wasted--it's wasted lives, wasted effort, wasted pain," said Scalea.
The distracted driving law goes into effect here in Maryland in October.