BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Even as our cars are getting safer, roads across the country are getting more dangerous.

According to a new study, deadly crashes are on the rise and a growing majority involve your smart phone.

Hospitals across Maryland are holding events for Distracted Driving Awareness Month, in hopes that if the warnings haven’t scared you one of the events will.

A staggering 52 percent of crashes nationwide now involve distractions from cell phones.

The distraction epidemic behind the wheel is now at the center of a virtual reality campaign by Maryland trauma centers and AT&T, to gives drivers the feeling of close calls.

They’re weaving through a virtual city and checking texts along the way.

“This was interesting to see how the driving, what it was like to simulate driving,” Charles Efird said.

“I’m going to turn my phone off when I’m driving. And it’s going to be an unpopular decision with my friends, but they’ll understand after I tell them about this experience,” Sterling Kelly said.

The risks and the crash in the headset are a virtual experience but the hope is that it has a real-life impact.

Crashes are to blame for more than a million deaths and 50 million injuries every year and you are six times more likely to crash while using your phone.

“Distracted driving, it doesn’t matter. One life is one life too many and obviously in Maryland, our goal is toward zero deaths on our roadways,” said Lt. Kevin Ayd of the Maryland Transportation Authority.

Hundreds of crash victims end up in the Sinai emergency room.

“We see horrific injuries of patients who are here. Quite a lot of mortalities from them as well. Patients who survive them have horrific scars for life,” said Dr. Zain Hashmi of Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Officials are hoping the message translates behind the wheel before its too late.

Maryland State Police are cracking down on distracted drivers this month pulling more people over who are driving distracted.

Tuesday kicked off National Work Zone Awareness Week, a reminder to drivers to slow down in work zones.

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