Every year, over 24,000 people are hurt and 200 are killed due to distracted driving in Maryland. This data from the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office drives home the importance of staying safe and focused when on the road. What should all drivers know about distracted driving accidents in Maryland?
The Facts on Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is currently one of the leading causes of accidents and fatalities in the state of Maryland. Sadly, every death from distracted driving is a preventable death, as these ‘accidents’ are the result of choices that drivers make on the road, not weather conditions or mechanical failures. Taking your eyes off the road for mere seconds can lead to a crash.
There are four different types of distracted driving:
- Visual: When you are looking at something else, whether it’s something on the shoulder of the road or your phone in front of your face, you are not paying attention as you operate your vehicle.
- Auditory: Many people listen to music while they drive, but it can be a legitimate distraction that divides your attention.
- Manual: Any time that you are using your hands to touch and manipulate something other than the wheel, you’re driving distracted.
- Cognitive: When you are thinking about other things or going over your to-do list, that’s brainpower that should be getting used for driving.
What Does the Law Say?
Maryland has specific laws that prevent any driver from using their phone while driving unless they are turning the phone on or off or starting or stopping a call. There are also exceptions for calling 9-1-1, a hospital, a police department, emergency medical services (EMS), or a fire department, but you should pull over whenever possible to make a call.
Maryland also has a law known as Jake’s Law. This law targets distracted driving specifically, and it has harsh penalties for drivers who don’t keep their attention on the road. The law was passed in response to the killing of a 5-year-old boy, Jake Owen, by a distracted driver who only paid a $1,000 fine in response. Now, drivers will face a $5,000 fine and up to a year in prison if their distracted driving leads to a fatal or serious accident.
Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving
- Only use your phone during emergencies on the road. Even hands-free devices can distract you from what you’re doing.
- Avoid driving with a car full of passengers, especially if you are a young or inexperienced driver. Other people provide ample opportunities for distraction that can lead to a car accident.
- Never eat while driving. Glancing away from the road for a few seconds is incredibly dangerous, and food spills can also be a distraction.
- When you are driving, only worry about driving. Focus on the road and your surroundings, not what song is playing or the person in the backseat.
Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help
If you have been harmed due to distracted driving in Maryland, you need the right legal assistance. Our experienced legal team is looking forward to working with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.