Articles Tagged with texting while driving

When it comes to distracted driving, Maryland has some of the toughest traffic laws in the US. Texting while driving is prohibited and considered a primary offense. In October 2013, Maryland joined our neighbors in Washington, D.C., in making use of handheld cell phones while driving illegal as well. The only exception is to make an emergency call to 911. (Note: Talking on speakerphone, using hands-free Bluetooth technology, and with cellphone headsets is permissible while driving in Maryland, except for youthful drivers with learners’ permits.)

Still, these laws haven’t stopped some Maryland drivers from doing dangerous things they’re not supposed to do while driving—including using handheld cell phones. Now, Maryland lawmakers want to increase fines for using hand held cellphones while driving in hopes of getting errant drivers to change their risky behaviors. The current maximum fine of $175 is apparently not enough to discourage some motorists to put down their phones until their cars are in park.

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Maryland parents need to set a good example behind the wheel for their teenage sons and daughters. A new report by the AAA Foundation finds that distracted driving contributes to more serious car crashes involving teens than previously thought. Not surprisingly, cell phone use behind the wheel is among the primary causes.

CBS News reported on the AAA Foundation study, which analyzed teen car accidents caught on in-car videotape. According to the news report, the study found that distracted driving was a factor in 58 percent of moderate to severe motor vehicle accidents involving teen drivers. That 58 percent is much higher than the previous government estimate of 14 percent. The video evidence is chilling. Continue Reading

Earlier this summer, we wrote about Maryland’s efforts to prevent distracted driving accidents. Cell phone use while driving – including texting while driving – poses a deadly hazard on our nation’s roadways. Teenage drivers, a traditionally hard-to-reach group, are known for engaging in this dangerous practice. Teens have plenty of distractions in the car, especially when driving with multiple passengers. Add electronics to the mix and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Motor vehicle crashes are the number-one cause of death for young Americans ages 15 to 20. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that while teens account for 6 percent of the driving public, they comprise 9 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes and 13 percent of drivers involved in police-reported crashes. The traffic safety group Toward Zero Deaths Maryland estimates…

  • Some 30,000 injuries occur every year in Maryland due to distracted-driving crashes
  • In 2012, more than 50,000 distracted driving accidents occurred in Maryland, accounting for more than 58% of all motor vehicle crashes and 46% of all fatal crashes in the state
  • That same year, 76% of drivers killed in Maryland distracted-driving crashes were male, and 36% of drivers were between 21 and 34 years old

So what is Maryland doing to prevent distracted-driving accidents among teens?

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Back in the day when families typically owned one car (usually a sedan or station wagon the size of Delaware), “distracted driving” meant fiddling with the radio, eating a messy sandwich or yelling at kids in the back seat to settle down. Those rolling activities still fall under the government’s definition of distracted driving, along with smoking, putting on makeup and other things that take the driver’s eyes off the road and hands off the wheel.

The advent of the cell phone, however, took distracted driving to a new level. These devices that keep us connected and put information at our fingertips have become indispensable. It’s disturbing to think our new generation of drivers never knew a time when they didn’t have a phone in their car. Once people could text on their cell phones, the problem of distracted driving on our roadways got worse. Some public safety experts believe texting while driving is as much of a hazard as drunk driving. Teens texting while driving is particularly troublesome.

Over the years, states like Maryland have taken measures to pass laws, educate the public, focus on teens and parents, and partner with schools, agencies and other organizations to prevent distracted driving accidents. Maryland is among the 47 states and the District of Columbia to pass specific distracted driving laws. In 2012, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) surveyed its members to see where states had made gains, and where more needs to be done.

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