Maryland lawmakers are planning on making read text messages while driving illegal. The current texting while driving ban, which went into effect last year, only bans drivers from sending text messages. There also may be enough support to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving, especially as the newer phones include applications that allow drivers to e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and browse the Internet. Currently, school bus drivers and drivers with provisional licenses and learner’s instructional permits are not allowed to talk on any kind of cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. Lawmakers, however, want to do more to decrease the number of Maryland car accidents.
According to the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis, about 636,000 auto crashes a year involved someone using a cell phone. 2,600 fatalities and 330,000 injuries have resulted from these distracted driving accidents. The National Safety Council says that the number of car crashes caused by cell phone (talking and texting) use—1.6 million auto collisions—is even higher. Meantime, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute have reported that the number of car crashes in states with handheld cell phone bans doesn’t seem to have gone down.
The Maryland General Assembly has struggled with how much restriction to place on cell phone driving activities. However, there is no longer any doubt that texting while driving increases a motorist’s Maryland motor vehicle accident risk dramatically. While the act of texting is harmless in and of itself, it is the fact that motorists become distracted, taking their eyes and mind off the road and their hands off the steering wheel, that makes texting while driving such a dangerous driving activity. People have even compared its degree of dangerousness to the perils presented by driving while drunk.
Just this week, a jury convicted a man of killing a pedestrian while he was engaged in distracted driving. Prosecutors claim that he was texting.
In most cases, the distracted driver never intends to hurt anyone. Yet unfortunately, Maryland personal injuries and wrongful deaths do happen.
Lawmakers want to tighten ban on texting while driving, The Baltimore Sun, February 19, 2010
Costa Mesa driver found guilty of killing nanny in 2008 road accident, Daily Pilot, January 27, 2010
Related Web Resources:
Cell Phone Driving Laws, Governors Highway Safety Association