Maryland Distracted Driving Alert: Texting Ups Car Accident Risk Significantly

Have you ever traveled on the Baltimore Beltway or another Maryland roadway and noticed your fellow drivers engaging in activities other than steering the 4,000-pound SUV beneath them? Car crashes caused by drivers reading the newspaper, fiddling with the stereo, putting on makeup, and chatting on cell phones — only to lose control of their vehicles or miss a road obstacle and crash — are sadly, nothing new.

Now we traffic-frazzled Maryland commuters can add texting to the list of distracted-driving activities that can cause serious car, SUV, motorcycle and truck accidents. Highways aren’t the only places texting poses a risk — a teenager texting a friend while driving down their quiet neighborhood street could cause a fatal car pedestrian accident.

A recent study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute concluded that texting (i.e., typing and sending messages on a cell phone or wireless hand-held device) while driving is even more dangerous that previously thought, and that texting has indeed become the most dangerous of all distracted-driving activities.

Maryland traffic accident lawyers like us see the worst of what happens on the state’s highways and roadways. We know too well that even normally good drivers can cause a car, truck, or motorcycle accident by being distracted, even for an instant. Some states, such as Virginia, have banned texting while driving.

Though the Virginia Tech study focused on long-haul trucks (outfitted with video cameras for research purposes), they believe their findings apply to all drivers — not just commercial truck drivers. Over 18 months, the video cams recorded that in the moments before a crash or near-miss traffic accident, the truck drivers looked down at their texting devices for nearly 5 seconds — enough time at highway speeds to cover the length of a football field. We’ve said it before, and it’s worth repeating: Drive carefully out there. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road — and your fellow drivers.

Texting Raises Crash Risk 23 Times, Study Finds
The New York Times in Yahoo! Finance July 28, 2009
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Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

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