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October brings stricter texting law to Maryland

Published on Oct 14, 2014 at 3:51 pm in General Blogs.

Texting and driving is one of the issues that is sufficiently new that while we suspect that there is a problem, and we have some anecdotal evidence of the dangers, we do not have the vast numerical conformation that would allow us to recognize just how bad things really are.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that at any given moment during daylight hours there are 100,000 drivers texting. They also estimate that 600,000 drivers are using a cellphone during that same period. Yet according to the hard numbers, there were only 3,328 highway fatalities linked to distracted driving.

Part of the discrepancy could be due to the fact determining if a car accident was caused by cellphone or texting distraction is not always apparent. If phone records are not examined by investigators after a crash, it may appear that could have fallen asleep or been engaged in some other negligent driving behavior.

The need to do something about the problem has led to a new law in Maryland that sets a $5,000 maximum fine, a year in jail and 12 license points as a penalty for a distracted driving crash caused by cellphone or texting that causes serious injury or death.

The law, known as “Jake’s Law,” after a 5-year-old who died when the car he was riding in was struck in the rear by a driver who was texting at the time. that driver was only fined $1,000 for the accident that caused the boy’s death, which was probably far less than the cost of damage to the vehicles.

While stricter laws and better enforcement can help, one survey suggest that only half of drivers believe they are likely to be caught violating these laws.

Consider, if you have children, would even $5,000 seem adequate punishment for a driver who violated the law and caused them to die? Whatever the call or text, it is never going to be worth another person’s life. Turn off your phone when you drive. Always.

Source: Fredericknewspost.com, “Very real dangers of texting while driving” Editorial Board, October 6, 2014

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