If there is one significant trend we have noticed over the past ten years in our automobile accident lawsuits, it’s that a significant number of accidents are caused by drivers who are distracted by cell phones, and it is that cell phone evidence has become more important than ever. Our clients frequently tell us that they saw the other driver looking down in their lap immediately before the collision, and that they suspect cell phone use. This post will go over the rules in Maryland for drivers with cell phones.
Maryland Law On Cell Phone Use
The law in Maryland has been ramping up for a couple of years as distracted driving became a hot-button issue. Many see it as equivalent in priority to drunk driving. Here is a summary of the law’s progression:
- October 2009: Maryland prohibits drivers from writing or sending text messages while operating a motor vehicle in motion or in the travel portion of a roadway. Violators are subject to fines of up to $500 for a misdemeanor offense.
- October 2010: Maryland prohibits drivers from talking on cell phones without a hands-free device. When this rule was passed, violation was a secondary offense. This means that drivers could only be pulled over and ticketed if they were simultaneously breaking some other law, like speeding. The fine system was modest–$40 for a first offense, and $100 for subsequent offenses. There were no points for a first offense unless the cell phone use contributed to an accident. Later offenses could result in the loss of one point each.
- October 2011: Maryland Legislature tightens restrictions by making the writing, reading or sending of text messages or e-mails a primary offense. Drivers are fined $70 for a first offense, and $110 for a second offense.
Distracted Driving Statistics
The amazing website EndDDD.org covers some compelling statistics on distracted driving.
- According to the DOT, in 2009 there were approximately 5,474 deaths and 448,000 injuries involving distracted driving
- Cell phone use causes 18% of distracted driving deaths
- 80% of collisions are caused to some degree by distracted driving
- Drivers who talk on a cell phone are four times as likely to be involved in a crash
- Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash
If you believe that you were the victim of a distracted driving automobile accident, contact our personal injury lawyers at 1-800-776-4529, or tell us about your case online. We have the experience to identify distracted driving evidence and use it to your advantage in automobile accident settlements and lawsuits.