Many 16-year-olds are looking forward to a school-free summer, family vacations and hanging out with friends. However, none of those carefree, seasonal activities are available to a teenager recently charged with negligent homicide after a fatal car accident in a nearby state. Police say the young female driver killed a man because she was distracted by a cellphone.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which is attempting to spread the word to drivers across the country that cellphone use remains a top cause of car accidents. There are numerous campaigns addressing the issue in individual states, including Maryland, where 231 people died last year in accidents involving distracted driving.
Like a lot of states, Maryland has a ban on handheld cellphone use while driving as a means to cut down on the number of cellphone-related car accidents. Enacted in October 2010, the law isn't quite as stiff as neighboring Delaware's. (For example, a Delaware motorist can be pulled over for that offense alone. In Maryland it can only be enforced if a driver is pulled over for another offense.) The penalties are also slightly lower in Maryland.
When it comes to distracted driving, many consider text messaging while at the wheel extremely dangerous, and rightfully so. This practice takes a driver's eyes off the road, and it has been attributed as the cause for countless fatal car accidents in Maryland and around the United States.
A memorable rite of passage likely ensued for many Maryland drivers on September 30, as they said good bye to their cell phones and either opted for a hands-free headset or speaker system while driving or simply decided to motor along without talking to anybody.
Although the following story does not directly relate to a Maryland-based car accident or other motor vehicle mishap, it easily enough could, and on any day of the week. Because of its universal applicability on roadways across America -- as well as its instructive value -- the details are sketched here.