Cell Phone Accident
In 1973, the first handheld cell phone prototype was used to make a call. Now, millions of Americans, and billions of people worldwide, subscribe to a cellular phone service. The cell phones available today and the ones being developed for tomorrow can do much more than make an analog phone call, however. Nowadays, a person can send text messages, play games, surf the Internet, check stocks, shop, check email, listen to music, take photographs, record videos, browse social networking sites, connect to your home computer, keep a calendar, and more. As impressive as all these features are, they do pose a problem. With cell phones being able to do so much, many people are constantly using them, at work, home, restaurants, school, movie theaters, and, inevitably, while driving a motor vehicle.
Cell Phones and Distracted Driving
Cell phones are a distraction. If a driver is focused on sending or reading a text message instead of making sure they are driving safely, it threatens the lives of other motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and anyone else on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving is defined as performing any non-driving activity while driving.
There are three main types of distracted driving:
- Visual - eyes off the road;
- Manual - hands off the wheel; and
- Cognitive - mind off of driving.
Using a cell phone, especially for sending or even reading text messages, involves all three.
Cell Phone Crash Statistics
According to the NHTSA, 5,474 people were killed and approximately 448,000 were injured in distraction-related car accident nationwide. Of those killed, 995 reportedly died in cell phone-related crashes. Based on federal observational data, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) determined that, in 2009, approximately 672,000 passenger vehicles, at any point in the day, were being driven by people using a hand-held cell phone. This is an unacceptably large number of distracted drivers.
Maryland Cell Phone Laws
As the dangers of using a cell phone while driving became more and more apparent, many states have enacted laws to ban or limit the use of cell phones while driving. In Maryland:
- All drivers are banned from using a hand-held cell phone;
- Drivers under 18 years of age who hold a learner's permit or provisional license are banned from all cell phone use, hand-held AND hands-free;
- School bus drivers are banned from using hand-held cell phones; and
- All drivers are banned from sending or reading text messages.
A violation of the general cell phone use law constitutes a secondary offense, which means that a police officer cannot pull over someone talking on a hand-held cell phone unless they've committed some other traffic violation. Texting is a primary offense, however. This allows a police officer to cite a driver for texting without any other violation.
Cell Phone Accidents Are Preventable
Using a cell phone while driving to make a call, text, surf the web, or for any other reason is a choice. Drivers who choose to pay attention to their cell phone instead of the road are a danger to the safety of everyone on the road and are liable for any accident their negligence causes. At Alpert Schreyer, our knowledgeable injury lawyers help injured car accident victims in Maryland pursue just and maximum compensation for the losses they've suffered as a result of their injuries. To learn more about your legal rights and options, call us today for a free consultation at (800) 489-1577 or (301) 932-9997.