During the daytime, over 480,000 drivers use their cell phones while operating a vehicle, and texting and making calls on a cell phone are the leading causes of distracted driving accidents. Here, traffic violation attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein provides an overview of Maryland’s distracted driving laws so you can be aware of the potential legal consequences of using a cell phone while driving.
What Encompasses Distracted Driving Behavior?
Driving distractions can endanger pedestrians, drivers, passengers and yourself, which is why it is imperative to be focused while driving and remove any distractions that may inhibit your ability to pay attention to the road. Distractions can be visual, manual, auditory or cognitive and include texting, cell phone use, eating, drinking, talking to passengers, reading maps or GPS directions, watching a video and more. Any actions that bring your attention away from the roads and towards something else is considered a driving distraction.
What are Maryland Distracted Driving Laws?
Maryland is a “hands-free” state—in other words, Maryland drivers with unrestricted licenses are condoned to make phone calls over a hands-free device such as Bluetooth or speakerphone. Driving while texting or using a hand-held device is prohibited.
In Maryland, both texting while driving, and making phone calls on a handheld device while driving, are “primary” laws. This means that an officer can pull you over for texting or talking on your phone even if you are otherwise not breaking any driving laws, such as speeding or swerving. The fines for texting and driving differ on a case-by-case basis but do not usually exceed $500. If you are pulled over for talking on your cell phone while driving due to failure to utilize a hands-free method, you can be fined a maximum of $75 for a first offense, $125 for a second offense and $175 for a third offense.
What are Some Best Practices to Avoid Distracted Driving?
There are many ways to be safer while on the road and avoid distracted driving. For example, if you must make or answer a call, pull off to the side of the road in a safe area to use your phone. While individuals may be tempted to eat breakfast on the go or drink coffee during their morning commute, it is highly advisable to avoid eating and drinking while driving. Eat before you leave the house or pack food and drinks to eat at work. Additionally, do your grooming at home before you leave, rather than in the car, and review maps and GPS directions before you start your drive so you are familiar with where you are going.
Contact Traffic Violation Attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein for More Information
Distracted driving is irresponsible and can lead to entirely avoidable accidents and injuries. Avoid placing yourself and others in a dangerous situation by focusing on the road while driving, putting your phone away and consuming food or drinks before you get behind the wheel or after you have arrived at your destination. In the case that you find yourself in an automobile accident as a result of distracted driving, do not hesitate to contact The Law Offices of Douglas C. Lauenstein today.