Distracted Driving Is a Menace on Maryland Roads

Maryland drivers need to be aware that distracted driving is a killer. According to government reports, more than 3,000 people died nationally in 2010 in motor vehicle accidents in which a distracted driver was involved, and approximately 416,000 were injured. Accidents involving distracted driving comprise almost one-fifth of the accidents in the U.S. that result in injury.

Distraction can be anything that takes a driver's attention away from the road. Examples include talking with passengers, eating and drinking, and using electronic devices. Texting while driving is the deadliest distraction of all, because it diverts a driver's mental, visual and physical capacities from driving safely.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently launched an aggressive campaign against distracted driving, especially focused on cell phone use. The DOT is offering advice to all drivers, legislators and road safety organizations, and outlining approaches they can take to make safer roads by discouraging drivers from texting and talking on cell phones while behind the wheel.

At present 11 states do not yet have distracted driving laws on the books, and the DOT is urging them to adopt such laws. For those that already have laws against distracted driving, the DOT is encouraging stricter enforcement. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is issuing $2.4 million in federal funding to two states to expand the DOT's pilot enforcement program aimed at ticketing violators of laws prohibiting cell phone use.

The DOT will also offer driver educational curriculum materials instructors can use to educate young drivers about distracted driving. Many drivers are unaware, for example, that it takes an average of 4.6 seconds to send or view a text — the time it takes for a car traveling at 55 mph to travel the length of a football field. That is a long way to be driving blind. Education to young drivers may be the most helpful, as drivers under 25 are twice as likely to use electronic devices to send text messages while driving.

The DOT campaign will hopefully be effective in reducing distracted driving. Unfortunately, distracted driving accidents continue to happen, and anyone who has been injured by a distracted driver's inattentiveness can benefit from consulting an experienced personal injury attorney. Compensation may be available for injuries and death resulting from driver negligence.