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The Dangers of Distracted Driving

The phrase “distracted driving” refers to any activity that diverts your attention from the road. Distracted driving is a frequent cause of police-reported vehicle accidents. One of the leading forms of distraction is cell phone use. Maryland law prohibits the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving.

Any sort of distraction causes drivers to lose crucial visual and auditory information and perception that is needed to prevent a collision. Driving a car is a task that requires your full attention. When you’re distracted, it’s easy to miss what’s going on around you and make a mistake. In the United States, 3 out of 4 car crashes involve some form of driver distraction. The three most common types are: visual distraction, manual distraction, and cognitive distraction.

Visual Distraction

Taking your eyes off the road for more than two seconds at any given time is a risk. Examples of visual distractions include anything from applying makeup or moving around objects in the car to putting on clothes, reading a map, watching videos, using electronic devices and more.

Manual Distraction

Anything that takes one or both hands off the steering wheel or your feet off the pedals is a manual distraction. Examples of manual distractions are making a phone call, or eating and drinking while driving.

Cognitive Distraction

Anything that takes your mind completely away from driving, such as talking on a cell phone or texting, can be considered cognitive distractions. These are often the most dangerous types of distractions because they require all of your attention and more than two seconds to complete.

Talking on a cell phone, texting and engaging in social media are just some examples of cognitive distractions that can take your mind completely away from driving. Cognitive distractions also include daydreaming, arguing with other passengers and more.

Talking on a Cell Phone is the Most Common Distraction

Anything that takes your mind completely away from driving including talking on a cell phone or texting, can be considered cognitive distractions. These are often the most dangerous types of distractions because they require all of your attention and more than two seconds to complete.

Research shows that driving while talking on a cell phone is just as dangerous an activity as drinking alcohol and driving, putting yourself and others at serious risk for injury or death.

Teen Distracted Driving

It’s important to note that distracted driving is not limited to the adult driver. The teen driver is just as likely—if not more so—to be involved in car crashes where driver distraction was the cause. Some of the most common forms of teen distractions include:

  • talking or texting on a cell phone
  • changing the radio station or CD 
  • looking for loose items
  • putting on make-up

Talk to your teens about distracted driving. Reinforce the Maryland rules. Set some rules of your own:

  • Don’t drive while tired or distracted.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up to your friends if you’re worried about their distracted driving.
  • Suggest they put their phone out of sight and unreachable while driving to resist temptation

Shocking Statistics of Distracted Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ( NHTSA ) states that nine people have fatal crashes a day, and more than 1,000 are injured daily in incidents reported as distraction-related crashes in the United States, according to the latest data.

Another statistic shared by the NHTSA is that distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2019.

Distracted Driving Laws in Maryland

In Maryland, the law states that you cannot use any electronic device with a screen (such as cell phones, tablets and navigation systems) while operating your vehicle. This includes sending, reading or writing text messages.

For drivers under the age of 18, the Maryland law states that the driver can’t use hand-held or hands-free electronic devices while driving.

What Is the Fine for Distracted Driving in Maryland?

  • For a first violation, offenders are fined $75 ($83 with court costs added)
  • For a second violation, offenders are fined $125 ($140 with court costs added)
  • For a third or subsequent violation, offenders are fined up to $175.

Being a distracted driver is extremely dangerous for you, your passengers, other motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. Putting your full attention on driving at all times is the best way to stay safe.

If you should be involved in an accident and the evidence suggests that you were distracted while driving, you could be facing reckless or negligent driving charges. If your actions significantly contributed to the accident and injury/death of another party, you may also face criminal charges.

Car Accident Involving Distracted Driving

What should you do if you were involved in a car accident and you know you were following all of the rules of the road. First thing to do is call the police to come to the scene of the accident. The police officer will investigate the accident and write up an official police report. This will be important when it comes time to file a claim with your insurance company. In the investigation, the police officer will ask you and all parties involved what happened. It’s important to be honest about any distraction that may have contributed to the accident. If the other driver admits to being distracted, you may have a case.

Call a Baltimore Car Accident Lawyer Today

If you had the misfortune of being in an accident where the other driver was distracted, contact the Law Office of John J. Leppler for a FREE Consultation. John has represented numerous drivers who were seriously injured due to someone else’s carelessness or negligence on the road. John will advise you on your legal options, and work with you to determine the best course of legal action. If you choose to work with John, he will fight the insurance company hard and refuse to accept a low-ball settlement. His commitment is to help you get the compensation you deserve! Call (443) 955-1989 to discuss your situation.