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Texting behind the wheel in Maryland: dangerous and illegal

| Jul 24, 2017 | Car Accidents

At our law firm, we fight for compensation for clients injured in motor vehicle accidents that happened because someone else was negligent, reckless, aggressive or even driving in an unlawful manner. A common driving behavior that puts others at risk in these times is texting behind the wheel

Texting dangers 

Consider some well-known texting-while-driving research from the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC. If a driver going 55 mph sends or reads a text message, he or she has his or her eyes off the road while the vehicle travels the distance of a football field. Put that way, the thought of possible outcomes is chilling, yet many people still refuse to put their phones down when driving.

Texting distraction 

Texting activity while operating a motor vehicle is particularly dangerous because it involves three important kinds of distraction: visual, manual and cognitive, continues the CDC. Basically, your eyes, hands and brain are doing something other than driving. Not surprisingly, this behavior is relatively common among teen drivers, but older drivers do it too. 

Lawmakers have taken notice 

So what does the law say? Federal law prohibits any cell-phone use by commercial drivers or drivers who transport hazardous materials. Maryland state law says that any driver of a moving vehicle may not use a handheld phone in any way except to begin or end a wireless call, turn the phone on or off, or make an emergency call. 

Violators can be fined, with the fine increasing for multiple violations. If the behavior involves an accident, the driver can get points on his or her license. Also, law enforcement can ticket drivers who write send or read texts or emails while driving. 

Significantly, a driver who causes a crash that results in death or serious injury while using a handheld phone to talk to text can be convicted of a crime for which sanctions can be imposed of up to three years of imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000. 

Civil liability 

A traffic violation or related criminal conviction can be important evidence in a civil personal injury lawsuit brought against the driver for recovery of damages from a resulting accident like medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering and property damage. Anyone in a collision with a texting driver should seek advice immediately from an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn of potential legal remedies. 

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