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What you should know about distracted driving in Maryland

Distracted driving is responsible for a growing number of car accidents and deaths in Maryland. As noted by the Baltimore Sun, an average of 158 Maryland residents lose their lives each year because of a distracted driver.

Maryland has reacted to the growing concerns by enacting strict rules against distracted driving. Drivers may incur fines and point penalties if caught driving while not giving their full and undivided attention to the road.

Cellphone use

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and as reported by ABC News, nearly 40% of teenagers surveyed admitted to sending a text or email while driving, and 52% admitted that they read a text message or email while operating a motor vehicle. The study also revealed that more than half of the car crashes that teen drivers were responsible for occurred as a result of distractions such as reading and sending a text message on a cellphone.

Another driving distraction noted was failing to use a hands-free device when speaking on the phone and driving. The study found that experienced adult drivers were also using mobile devices on the road.

Penalties for cellphone use

Maryland’s distracted driving laws, like those of many other states, prohibit drivers from using a handheld cellphone or mobile device while operating a motor vehicle. In addition to points added to a driving record, the fine for a first-time offender caught using a handheld phone while driving is $83. The second offense results in a $140 fine, and a third offense is $160. A $70 fine results when drivers read or send text messages while operating a motor vehicle. If an offense contributes to an accident or harm to others, the penalties may be more severe.

To raise awareness of this matter, Maryland adopted its “Park the Phone before You Drive” campaign. Drivers may talk on the phone if they have it docked on the car’s dashboard and use a hands-free headset.