Far too many people take driving on the roads of Baltimore lightly. Operating a vehicle puts you in charge of thousands of pounds of metal and plastic. Worse, you move it quickly enough to cause serious damage and severe injuries if you make a mistake or lose control at a bad time.
Unfortunately, because driving is such a common thing to do, many drivers see it as trivial, and not worthy of their full attention. Instead of focusing on the road ahead of them and the hazards and dangers that they might have to deal with, many drivers let themselves become distracted, or voluntarily choose to pay attention to their phones while they are on the road. When drivers choose to send a text or read one on their phone, they put others at unnecessary risk of a serious car accident because of their texting and driving.
Statistics Show How Dangerous Texting While Driving Can Be
The statistics surrounding texting and driving are well known. However, because texting and driving accidents still happen so often, they bear repeating.
One of the most shocking statistics that show how dangerous texting while behind the wheel can be comes from a study done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). While the FMCSA's study focused on truck drivers who were texting – rather than regular car drivers – some of the findings of the study apply equally well to car drivers, as well. The finding that stuck out in the FMCSA's results was how long a text took away a driver's attention. According to the FMCSA, the average text message took the driver's attention for 4.6 seconds. When travelling at 55 miles per hour – something that drivers on the highway seem to do only rarely – this meant the driver's eyes were off the road for the length of an entire football field, preventing them from seeing or reacting to any hazards on the road for over a hundred yards. The FMCSA found that this increased the odds of a trucker causing a crash by more than 23 times.
A study in Britain, done by the Transport Research Laboratory, found different numbers, but which taught a similar lesson. According to their study, car drivers who sent a text message while behind the wheel had reaction times that were diminished by 37%. This was nearly three times worse than when drivers were under the influence of alcohol: Their reaction times were only reduced by 13%.
Needless to say, these impacts on someone's driving abilities can cause car accidents. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), somewhere between 6% and 16% of all car crashes in the U.S. in 2013 were caused by texting and driving.
These scary numbers, though, have not had much of an impact on drivers in the United States, though. A Harris Poll in 2011 found that many drivers seem to be convinced that they can still safely drive while distracted by text messages on their phones: Out of the 2,163 adults that the poll reached, 91% of them knew that it was unsafe to text and drive, but 22% admitted to doing it, anyway.
Many of these drivers who choose to text and drive despite the risks are under the age of 34. The Harris Poll found that 49% of the drivers between 18 and 34 texted while driving, including 7% who claimed they did it “all the time.” The problem is so bad among teenagers in the U.S. that texting while driving has been named the number one distraction for teen drivers – 13% of them admitted to texting or talking on their phone at the moment of a collision.
Texting and Driving in Baltimore
Unfortunately, texting and driving happens in Maryland and Baltimore as often as it happens, elsewhere. In fact, in 2011, 231 people in Maryland were killed and another 29,050 were hurt by distracted drivers in our state, including by those who were texting and driving.
In response to these numbers, the state of Maryland increased the penalties for some of its texting and driving laws, and altered other aspects of them to prevent these fatalities and serious injuries from happening.
Maryland's Texting and Driving Laws
Maryland prohibits all drivers in the state from texting while driving, and also prohibits drivers from using hand-held cell phones in the state. The statutes relating to texting and driving can be found at MD Code, Transportation § 21-1124. Importantly, and unlike in some other states, Maryland's texting and driving laws are primary offenses, allowing police officers to pull over texting drivers, even if they are not doing anything else wrong.
Drivers who violate Maryland's texting and driving law can be fined and have driving points added to their driving record. Things get even worse if a driver is texting when they cause an accident that leads to a fatality or a serious injury. § 21-1124.3, also known as “Jake's Law,” took effect on October 1, 2014, and fines these drivers up to $5,000 and allows for up to a year in jail.
Maryland's texting and driving statute treats drivers who are under the age of 18 differently than adults. Young drivers are prohibited from using a cell phone, at all, while they are driving – they cannot even call someone using a hands-free device. Additionally, instead of just getting fined, young drivers can also face a license suspension of up to 90 days for texting and driving under § 21-1124.1.
Baltimore Car Accident Attorneys
Drivers who are texting have made the choice to put you and other innocent people at risk. If they cause an accident that leads to you getting hurt, there is no reason why you should be the one who pays for the costs of your own recovery. It would only be just if they compensated you for your losses.
This is where the personal injury attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian can help. We fight for your rights and interests both in court and outside of it. Contact us online for the legal help you need.