Distracted driving has existed since the 1950s when Chrysler added portable record players to automobiles. However, as technology advanced, many states have banned using mobile devices while driving, including Maryland. Drivers in Rockville, Maryland, may face stiff fines and points on the license for distracted driving.
Overview of Maryland’s distracted driving law
Stats from the Maryland Highway Safety Officer reveal distracted driving causes about 27,000 car accidents and 185 fatalities annually. Distracted driving is defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as anything that takes a driver’s mind off the road. Distracted driving can include eating, changing radio stations, or grooming, and while not always illegal, they increase the chances of accidents.
Distracted driving includes three types of activity:
- Visual, or taking the eyes off the road
- Cognitive, or losing mental focus on driving
- Manual, or taking the hands off the steering wheel
The driver is only allowed to turn devices on or off manually or end or start calls while the vehicle moves. Drivers 18 and older may use hands-free devices, but drivers under 18 can not use hands-free devices, except for emergencies.
Exceptions to distracted driving
While drivers aren’t allowed to text or operate mobile devices, some exceptions may be used as a defense in their case. Some exceptions to this rule include contacting the police department to report crimes, fire departments, or other emergency services.
The ban on using mobile devices while driving, including texting, also doesn’t apply to calling 911 or using GPS systems. Emergency personnel are commonly exempt from distracted driving laws, but it only applies within the scope of their employment.
Many states work to reduce distracted driving accidents, and Maryland has considered raising fines. Drivers injured by distracted driving may be able to claim compensation for medical expenses and lost wages.