As if texting while driving (illegal in Maryland) weren’t dangerous enough, more drivers admit to using the Internet while behind the wheel. We see the tragic results of distracted driving when car accident victims come to our Baltimore personal injury law firm for help. We have never heard one good reason for anyone being on a cell phone while driving that was important enough to warrant taking one’s hands off the wheel and eyes off the road.
State Farm reports that “webbing while driving” is on the rise, with 24 percent of US drivers surveyed admitting to the practice. This refers to drivers using their smart phones to surf the Internet — when their eyes should be on the road. The top reasons drivers go online while driving are to (1) find directions, (2) read email, (3) obtain information “of immediate interest,” (4) engage on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and (5) compose / send email.
Distracted driving has become an increasing threat on our Maryland roadways and around the country, leading to serious and deadly motor vehicle crashes. Public safety advocates now believe distracted driving can be as deadly as drunk driving. The CDC estimates more than 16 people are killed and 1,300 people are injured in crashes involving distracted driving every day.
Unfortunately, the tech devices designed to make our lives easier have in fact added new hazards to driving. Once cell phones became affordable to practically everyone, our culture changed. Now people expect to be in touch with each other immediately and constantly — including while driving — even for trivial reasons. Texting made the problem on our roads and highways worse, as drivers have their heads down as they compose and send text messages. Maryland is one of 41 states that have made texting illegal as a primary offense.
The relative affordability and ubiquitousness of so-called “smart phones” has added another element of risk to the driving public. Now movie times and restaurant reviews are just a few taps of the screen away. The problem is it only takes an instant of distraction for a driver to cause a serious or fatal car or truck accident. The State Farm survey found that that webbing while driving has steadily increased over the past 5 years.
USA Today reports that since 2009, the incidence of going on the Internet while driving has doubled among drivers ages 18 to 29 — increasing from 29 to 49 percent of drivers surveyed. That’s nearly HALF of all young drivers surveyed. But the problem can’t be blamed on younger drivers exclusively. State Farm also found that half of all drivers ages 30 to 39 surveyed admitted to using the Internet while they were driving.
The Atlantic Wire reports that an estimated one in four drivers are doing something behind the wheel with an electronic device — something that is taking their eyes and minds off the road. If that doesn’t give you pause to slow down and drive defensively in Maryland, nothing will.
Related Baltimore Car Accident Injury lawyer article:
Maryland Seeks to Add More Teeth to Distracted Driver Laws (May 2012)
Webbing While Driving
State Farm Insurance 2011
Americans Can’t Stay Off the Internet, Even While Driving
The Atlantic Wire Nov. 12, 2013
Distracted Driving Laws
Governors Highway Safety Administration Nov. 2013