Maryland has made regular and substantial changes in the law on cell phone use by drivers. Cell phone use is getting the same attention that drunk driving historically has, and rightfully so-it is a major cause of injury-producing and sometimes fatal Maryland automobile accidents.
The rule right now for most drivers in Maryland (there are different rules for commercial interstate truck drivers; and drivers under 18 are not allowed to use cell phones for any purpose while driving) is that phone calls must use a hands-free device, and writing or reading e-mails or text messages is prohibited.
- Cell phone use is responsible for 1.6 million crashes per year (28% of all crashes) (National Safety Council)
- More than one-third of drivers admit texting or e-mailing while driving in the previous month (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety)
- Using a cell phone while driving quadruples your risk of crashing (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety)
Maryland Statistics (between October 2009 and September 2011)
- 587 warnings/379 citations for driving while texting
- 4,021 warnings/5,227 citations for failure to use hands-free phone while driving
- 2010: 496 traffic fatalities
History of the Current Laws
- October 2009: Maryland Legislature prohibits the writing or sending of text messages while operating a motor vehicle in motion or in the travel portion of a roadway. Violations are misdemeanor crimes punishable by a fine of up to $500.
- October 2010: Maryland Legislature prohibits drivers from talking on cell phones without a hands-free device. Violation was a secondary offense, meaning that lawbreakers could only be pulled over if they were violating some other law at the same time (for example, speeding). First offenses are punishable by $40 fine, and subsequent offenses are punishable by $100 fine. There are no points for a first offense (unless the violation contributed to an automobile accident, in which three points are assessed); and one point for subsequent offenses.
- October 2011: Maryland Legislature makes the writing, reading or sending of text messages or e-mails a primary offense. First offenses are punishable by $70 fine, and second offenses are punishable by $110 fine.
Our auto accident lawyers have seen first-hand the destruction and devastation that can be caused by distracted driving. We encourage all drivers to put the phone down while driving, and to follow Maryland law. If you believe that you have been the victim of a distracted driving accident, contact a personal injury lawyer from our law firm at (888) 213-8140, or online for a free consultation.