As 2012 draws to a close, it's worth taking a look at a few Maryland traffic laws and procedures. Maryland has received generally good grades from traffic safety advocates. This past year, more counties installed traffic light speed cameras in hopes of deterring accidents at intersections and in school zones. Maryland Highway Patrol is out in force every holiday, seeking to stop and arrest drunk drivers. A new law has been proposed that would add teeth to existing Maryland DUI/DWI laws, targeting offenders who drive drunk with children in the car.
However there's still room for improvement; 493 people were killed in Maryland motor vehicle accidents in 2010 and thousands more injured (Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2006 – 2010).
As Baltimore County, Maryland accident injury lawyers, we keep track of existing and new state traffic laws, as they may apply to the cases we handle for clients. Maryland has contributory negligence laws on the books, so if you as an injured party broke any traffic laws when your auto accident occurred – your eligibility for compensation and/or damages may be challenged.
Maryland drivers sometimes forget the traffic laws they learned in drivers' education class. Here are just a few you may or may not remember…
- Maryland has banned the use of hand held cell phones while driving (albeit as a secondary offense, i.e., they must be stopped for some other infraction), and all texting while driving is illegal (a primary offense, i.e., drivers may be stopped for texting).
- Penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) in Maryland include 45 days administrative license suspension for first offense (which may be modified if driver demonstrates hardship), and ignition interlock devices. However penalties do not include vehicle forfeiture for multiple offenses. (Traffic safety advocates frown on that practice.)
- Maryland has a universal motorcycle helmet law, requiring all motorcycle drivers and passengers to wear helmets. Operators are also required to wear protective eye wear.
- Maryland adopted a "move over law" in 2010, requiring drivers who see police or other emergency responders at the side of the road to slow down and safely move over one lane – to avoid roadside collisions. Ironically, our neighbors in Washington, DC, where federal laws are made, have no move over law on their books.
- Young drivers in Maryland who operate motor vehicles during intermediate or restricted licensing stages must obey night time driving restrictions (between midnight and 5 a.m.).
- Maryland drivers age 40 and older must take a vision test at every driver's license renewal.
- Motorists who experience trouble on Maryland highways should dial #77 for non-emergency police assistance. 911 is reserved for true emergencies.
Remember – When it comes to saving lives, traffic laws are only as good as the driving public's willingness to abide by them. Accidents still happen. As we always say, drive defensively. Have a safe and happy New Year.
Related Maryland Injury Attorney article:
Maryland State Highway Safety Laws Summary
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Maryland Traffic Safety Laws
Maryland Dept. of Transportation : State Highway Administration