As most everyone understands by now, texting while driving is one of the more dangerous activities that a motorist can undertake while operating a passenger car or commercial truck. Since the advent of text-capable cell phones and now smart phones, thousands of traffic accidents have been attributed to drivers texting or being otherwise distracted.
Numerous studies have been conducted been conducted over the years most of which link texting directly to, or as a contributing factor in, roadway collisions. Many of these car, truck and motorcycle crashes were serious enough to require hospitalization; some of them were tragically fatal to the driver and/or occupants of one or both vehicles involved. As Maryland personal injury attorneys and automobile accident lawyers, we know how a seemingly simple distraction can cause a driver to miss or ignore a dangerous situation developing on the road.
In fact, one of those studies from a couple years back cited the chances for a traffic accident occurring when a commercial truck driver was texting at more than 20-times in the absence of texting. While that study was based on data collected directly from video observations of truck drivers in-cab and also from trucking accident reports, one could easily assume that the average passenger car driver is at least as likely to get into an accident while texting as any commercial driver, if only because truckers are on the whole trained professionals who drive for a living.
In any event, the study out of Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute found that the main reason why texting while driving is so dangerous is the fact that the operators eyes must look away from the road and focus on a relatively small display screen. Experts tend to agree that taking one’s eyes off the road for more than two seconds while operating a passenger car or truck represents a dangerous driving condition.
Of course, by the time two vehicles collide, it’s much too late for preventative measures. This is one of the reasons why the recent tightening of anti-texting laws in Maryland and elsewhere around the nation have been put into effect, and why they are likely here to stay that way for the foreseeable future. Even so, it may be some time before everyone gets the message and our roads become safer for everyone.
According to a recent news article, police departments and other law enforcement agencies across the state have taken to vigorously enforcing the new law, which now makes reading a text or email while driving a primary offense. With a $500 fine for anyone who texts or reads their email while driving, police departments in Baltimore County and elsewhere started giving out tickets immediately after the law went into effect at the beginning of this month.
In addition to this new, primary offense rule for texting, Maryland drivers also barred from talking on their cellphones, although this habit is still a secondary offense, which means the police can’t stop a driver solely for using a cell phone or smart phone while operating a motor vehicle.
Since ban on texting began a couple years ago, officers from almost 80 Maryland police agencies have given out nearly 600 warnings and issued almost 400 traffic tickets. On the matter of cellphone use, that same group of police departments, including the Maryland State Police, has issued more than 4,000 warnings and over 5,000 traffic tickets.
New laws go into effect Saturday, BaltimoreSun.com, September 30, 2011