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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When Karen Roberts finished an overnight Christmas shift at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the recent nursing school graduate had gone 24 hours without sleeping. She was exhausted, but she assumed she could get behind the wheel of her car and make it home safely.
As Roberts got closer to her home, she considered stopping to get a soda to keep her awake. She could tell she was struggling. But then again, she was only a few miles from her destination. Surely, she thought, she could make it just a little bit longer. Continue Reading
Infographic: Driven to Distraction
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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.