Distracted Driving – Know the Law

Distracted driving: The next time you are driving and you reach to pick up your phone to read a text you just received, or you take a phone call while you are driving, consider these facts?

* Distracted driving comes in various forms, such as cell phone use, texting while driving, eating, drinking, talking with passengers, as well as using in-vehicle technologies and portable electronic devices.

* 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. (NHTSA).

* Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

* Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah) In fact, talking on the phone, listening to music, or having a conversation with a passenger decreases the brain power used while driving by 40%. (Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University Study)

*Distracted driving is the number one killer of American teens. Alcohol-related accidents among teens have dropped. But teenage traffic fatalities have remained unchanged, because distracted driving is on the rise. (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Study and NHTSA Study)

*While over 90% of teen drivers say they don’t drink and drive, nine out of 10 say they’ve seen passengers distracting the driver, or drivers using cell phones. (National Teen Driver Survey)

* The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group – 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. (NHTSA)

* An estimated one million people each day chat on their mobile or send text messages while driving. (The Herald).

Know the law: In Maryland, it is illegal to use a hand held cell phone device and it is illegal to read or write a text while driving except to dial “911” in an emergency. In addition, driver’s that have learner’s permit are banned from all cell phone use.

In the District of Columbia, It is illegal to use a hand held cell phone and it is illegal to text or read a text. School bus drivers and drivers with learner’s permits are banned from cell phone use.

In Virginia, it is illegal to use a hand held cell phone and it is illegal to text or read a text but you can use your GPS and you can read the caller ID on a call received.