With the advent of smartphones and text messages, distracted driving has become a serious public health issue over the last decade. In 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 2,841 lives were lost to distracted driving. But death is not the only consequence.

In the state of Maryland, from 2013-2017 there were a total of 56,322 crashes involving distracted drivers. Of those, 18,646 resulted in some kind of injury.

A stunning 46.1% of these crashes occurred in the Baltimore area, making it by far the area of the state with the most crashes involving distracted drivers.

As a result of the distracted driving epidemic, many states have responded with laws that make it illegal to text while driving. To date, 48 states, Washington D.C., and several U.S. Territories have laws on the books banning drivers from sending text messages. Maryland is one of those states.

But the Free State also has some of the strictest laws in the nation when it comes to distracted driving and even talking on a cell phone. Maryland is one of the 22 states that have so-called “hands-free” laws making it illegal to even talk on a cell phone while driving. 

What is Distracted Driving?

To be sure, smartphones and texting aren’t the only reason drivers are distracted. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) distracted driving “is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving.” This could include:

  • eating and drinking,
  • changing the radio station,
  • managing children or pets in the car,
  • using a navigation system, and
  • talking and texting

The problem with distracted driving seems obvious enough. Taking your eyes off the road while you operate a heavy machine that is traveling at high speeds slows your response time and greatly increases the likelihood of an accident.

In places like Baltimore, these risks are compounded during peak travel times like weekdays during rush hour. 

What Else Are People Doing About Distracted Driving?

Even though distracted driving is so obviously dangerous, as a culture we continue to drive while distracted. While state laws have helped decrease the number of fatalities and incidents of distracted driving over the last ten years, there is still a long way to go.

In Maryland, for example, public initiatives like the Toward Zero Deaths campaign seek to educate drivers on the dangers of driving while distracted and highlight alternatives that might help them keep their eyes on the road, including pulling over if you need to make a call, eating before or after you drive, and never driving while tired.

Distracted Driving Has Legal Consequences Too

Not only does distracted driving in Maryland kill 183 people and injure another 27,000 every year, but it has significant legal consequences too. Maryland is a contributory negligence state which means that if you were even slightly responsible for an accident you will be unable to collect damages for injuries you sustained in the accident. 

So, for example, if another driver was negligent and you sustained injuries in a car accident, you would be unable to sue for damages if you were on your phone or texting. 

And if you get caught driving while distracted you could face fines and have to pay if someone else is injured as a result of your negligence. 

Yes, Distracted Driving in Baltimore is Dangerous

As we have witnessed over the last decade and longer, distracted driving in Baltimore is very dangerous. The largest city in Maryland has seen more than its share of crashes involving distracted drivers and some experts have even gone on to suggest that it is a bigger problem than drunk driving

Sadly, these accidents can – and do – cause some devastating injuries, including:

  • paralysis
  • fractured bones
  • neck injuries
  • internal bleeding
  • concussions

Distracted driving is especially dangerous in a metropolitan area like Baltimore, but it is dangerous everywhere in Maryland and around the country. It can ruin lives and lead to serious legal consequences and punishment. Don’t let the perceived importance of a call or message make you take your eyes off the road. And if you have been injured by a distracted driver, contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to make sure you have the representation you need.