Driving is not rocket science but it does require a driver’s full attention in order to be performed safely. In recent years, especially since cell phones have become popular, there has been nationwide concern and media attention on distracted driving and its dangers. Although there are different types of driving distractions, ultimately, driving distracted means that the driver is involved in any non-driving activity that takes their attention off the road. When a driver’s attention is not on the road, they increase the risk of a car crash.
Types of Distractions
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are three main types of driver distractions: visual, manual, and cognitive.
- Visual distractions involve taking your eyes off the road. Reading a book or a map, turning your head to talk to passengers, and looking at your cell phone are some examples of visual distractions.
- Manual distractions involve taking your hands off the wheel. Trying to deal with a child or loose pet in the car, eating, drinking, or using your cell phone to text or make a call are all manual distractions.
- Cognitive distractions involve taking your mind off the task of driving. Cognitive distractions include just about every type of distraction, whether eating, reading, or talking with passengers, because once you are doing something other than driving, your mind will focus on that activity instead of on driving.
Some other examples of distractions include grooming, using a GPS system, watching a video, and changing the radio station or CD. The most hazardous distraction, however, is texting while driving because texting involves all three types of distractions.
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NHTSA Distracted Driving Statistics
Anything that takes a driver’s eyes, hands, or mind off the road is a problem and can have devastating results. According to the NHTSA, 20 percent of injury crashes, while resulted in 448,000 injuries, involved distracted driving in 2009. During the same year, 5,474 people were killed in fatal car accidents related to distracted driving. Of these fatalities, 995 were attributed to distracted driving involving cell phones.
Maryland Distracted Driving Statistics
According to the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA), there were 24,769 inattentive driver-related car accidents in 2008. These crashes caused 11,578 injuries and cost 34 lives. Furthermore, 75 percent of drivers killed in distracted driving accidents were males. Of the total distracted driver-related accidents in 2008, 32 percent involved rear-end collisions.
Maryland Cell Phone and Texting Law
In an effort to decrease incidents of distracted driving, especially for teen drivers, Maryland has implemented new cell phone laws, which became effective in October 2009 and 2010. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA):
- All hand-held cell phone use is banned for all drivers in Maryland.
- Novice drivers who are under 18 years of age and hold a learner or provisional license are prohibited from using any cell phone device, hand-held or hands-free, when behind the wheel in Maryland.
- Texting is banned for all Maryland drivers.
Under Maryland law, using a hand-held cell phone or using a cell phone as a novice driver are considered secondary offenses, which means that a law enforcement officer may only cite the driver for the cell phone use if they were first pulled over for another violation. However, text messaging while driving is a primary offense, which may be cited all on its own without the presence of any other traffic violation.
Liability in Distracted Driving Accidents
Distracted driving is preventable. If you or loved one has been injured in a distracted driving accident in Maryland, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses. Steven H. Heisler, “The Injury Lawyer”, is a respected Baltimore distracted driving car accident attorney and has helped many distracted driving victims hold negligent drivers accountable for the injuries they cause. Contact Mr. Heisler today to learn more about your legal rights and options at (410) 625-4878.
$5,500,000.00 - Steve represented a 33-year-old single mother of one whose vehicle was struck head-on by a construction truck in 2002. The client suffered life threatening injuries and was in a coma for six weeks. She required two months of brain injury rehabilitation. The client currently has serious permanent disabilities as a result of the accident including short term memory loss, impaired speech, double vision, and right side paralysis.
She is unable to return to her occupation as a dental hygienist or any other occupation. Steve Heisler and his associate Keith Kauffman negotiated a $5.5 million structured settlement at mediation. Should the client reach her life expectancy the payout increases to $9.5 million.
$250,000 - Steve represented the family of a 15 year old Anne Arundel County boy who was killed when the vehicle he was a passenger in failed to negotiate a curve and struck a tree. The defendant driver was also killed. Another passenger survived the crash. The defendant driver had a $300,000.00 liability policy. Steve negotiated a $250,000.00 settlement for the family. The remaining $50,000.00 was tendered to the surviving passenger.
$800,000 - Steve represented the estate and family of a 45 year old man who was killed when the motorcycle he was riding struck a guardrail and he was catapulted down an embankment. The estate and family alleged that a vehicle in the lane to the immediate left of the man swerved into his lane and caused a collision. The defendant strongly denied any wrong doing. The case was settled at a settlement conference for $800,000.00.
$325,000 - Steve’s client, a 45 year old Sr. Program Manager, was struck by a work vehicle that failed to yield the right of way while turning left in front of the victim in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Steve’s client was thrown from his Harley Davidson and suffered multiple injuries resulting in two surgeries. Suit was filed and the case settled for $325,000.00.
$200,000 - Steve’s client, an elderly lady from West Virginia, was seriously injured when the car she was traveling in was struck by a negligent driver in Garrett County, Maryland. The lady suffered a broken back and detached retina. Steve negotiated a $100,000.00 settlement with the defendant driver’s insurance company and was successful in getting his client’s West Virginia insurance company to “stack” an additional $100,000.00 for a total settlement of $200,000.00.
$100,000 - Steve represented a five year old Eastern Shore boy who was struck by a vehicle driving on the wrong side of the road while the boy was riding his bike. Steve's client suffered a traumatic brain injury and serious fractures which required him to spend an extended period of time in a rehabilitation center. The boy now has permanent brain damage. The case settled for the driver's policy limits of $100,000.00.
$95,000 - Steve represented a 36-year-old Cecil County man who was rear ended while stopped at a red light. The force of the impact was severe and his client’s vehicle was totaled. Steve’s client suffered a cerebral concussion, a C5-6 disc herniation, and a L2-3 disc protrusion. He received a 30% whole-body permanent disability rating. Steve settled the case with the insurance company for $95,000.00.