Maryland Distracted Driving Accidents

Anyone who has driven in the streets of Baltimore County, Baltimore City, its surrounding highways, and our country backroads knows there is a lot more going on behind the wheel besides simply driving. Distracted driving in Maryland and throughout the U.S. has become as much a threat to public safety as drunk driving. And while drunk driving accident fatalities have declined in recent years, distracted driving crash fatalities have risen, with texting while driving largely to blame.

Most car accidents are preventable. While there are many causes of Maryland car accidents, most accidents are the result of a few common negligent driving behaviors. In Maryland, one of the leading causes of car collisions is distracted driving. Distracted driving consists of any time a driver engages in behavior that removes their attention from the road. Distractions can be visual, auditory, manual, or cognitive. For example, eating or drinking, changing the radio station, talking to a passenger, day dreaming and texting are all common examples of distracted driving behavior.

While many of the reasons for a driver’s distraction have been around for years, today, the most cited reason for a distracted driving accident is cell phone use. This includes both talking on the phone as well as texting while driving. Currently, Maryland law prohibits the use of handheld devices while driving; however, hands-free devices can be used to make calls. Both talking and texting while driving are primary offenses, meaning a law enforcement officer can pull a motorist over for using their phone even if they are committing no other infractions.

The state department of transportation keeps very detailed records all Maryland distracted driving accidents. In part, this is to gauge the effectiveness of government efforts to reduce the instances of distracted driving. On average, there are nearly 54,000 Maryland traffic accidents that are caused by distracted driving. These wrecks result in nearly 18,000 injuries and 160 deaths. According to the most recent data from 2019, there were over 57,000 traffic accidents caused by distracted drivers. These accidents resulted in 18,102 injuries and 176 deaths.

Maryland distracted driving accidents occur on all types of roads. According to the state’s five-year average between 2015 and 2019 data, the breakdown is as follows:

  • Interstates: 6,982 accidents or 12.9 percent
  • U.S. highways: 4,870 accidents or 9 percent
  • Maryland highways: 17,209 accidents or 31.9 percent
  • County roads: 12,341 accidents or 22.9 percent
  • Municipal roads: 3,817 accidents or 7.1 percent
  • Parking lots: 2,671 accidents or 5 percent

Because distracted driving is largely the result of cell-phone use, it may not be surprising to learn that the most distracted drivers are between the ages of 21 to 34. In fact, this group of motorists is responsible for over one-third of all Maryland distracted driving car collisions. What may be a surprise to some, however, is that younger drivers aged 17 through 20 are among the least likely to get involved in a distracted driving accident.

How a Maryland Injury Attorney Helps Clients Injured in Distracted Driving Accidents

Let us say you were driving home from work on the Baltimore Beltway and you got sideswiped, sustaining injuries, and totaling your car. The other vehicle’s young driver was not only texting while driving, but she had other young passengers in the car (a significant factor in distracted driving cases, particularly among teenagers and people in their 20s). You would think the odds are stacked in your favor, given texting while driving is illegal in Maryland. You would think you do not need an attorney. You would be mistaken. Here is why…

Maryland is one of the few states in the county with Contributory Negligence laws on the books. These laws mean that is you are found to be just one percent contributory negligent for your motor vehicle collision in Maryland, then your claim will be denied and you will receive no compensation or damages for your injuries.

Though this may seem unfair, these laws make it very easy for injured parties who do not work with a lawyer to unknowingly trip themselves up, especially when it comes to talking to insurance companies. This is why an experienced car accident attorney can represent your interests and help you secure the compensation and damages you are entitled to.

Distracted Driving Is Always Dangerous

There are three main types of distracted driving, but all are dangerous.

  • Visual distraction, which means that the driver has taken his eyes off the road
  • Manual distraction, which specifies that the driver has removed his hands from the steering wheel
  • Cognitive distraction, meaning that the driver has stopped focusing on his driving

Distracted driving is a very serious violation of the law. It has been proven to be increasingly dangerous over the past few years with the rise in cell phone use. Some call it “the new drunk driving.” Studies have shown that distracted drivers often display the same driving ability as those who drive while intoxicated or falling asleep. Texting or talking on the phone while driving not only hinders the driver’s ability to steer as needed in case of an emergency, but it also takes the driver’s focus off the road for seconds at a time.

Cell Phone Laws in Maryland

In short, all Maryland drivers are prohibited from using a mobile device that does not include a hands-free option. Drivers may use cell phones if they use speaker phone, a Bluetooth wireless device, or a wired headset. Drivers under 18-years old are prohibited from using any sort of mobile device. Texting while driving is strictly prohibited.

Fines for cell phone use while driving range from $75 for a first-time offense to $175 for a repeat offense. It is important to note that cell phone use and texting while driving are primary laws, meaning that an officer may pull a driver over if they are seen using a handheld cell phone or texting while driving. Violations are considered misdemeanor crimes; those convicted could face fines and have points imposed on their licenses.

If a driver causes an accident that results in serious bodily injury or death as a result of using a handheld cell phone or texting while driving, the driver can be subjected to much harsher penalties. A conviction in these cases can result in up to one year in jail and a fine of $5,000.

Among legislation currently in consideration is Jake’s Law. This new cell phone law in Maryland, named after five-year old Jake Owen, who was killed by a driver using a cell phone, would require drivers under suspicion of distracted driving to hand over their phone to police to confirm their phone activity at the time of the crash. While some view the invasion of privacy as unnecessary, Jake’s Law has many supporters.

How Long Do I Have to File a Distracted Driving Claim?

In Maryland, victims of distracted driving accidents have a limited amount of time to file a claim for the injuries and damages they suffered. According to state law, car crash victims must generally file their claim within three years from the date of injury or else risk losing out on their legal right to pursue compensation. This is known as the statute of limitations, which sets a deadline for when you can take legal action against another party involved in an auto collision. It is important to keep in mind that the different circumstances of a case may shorten or extend the statutes of limitations, so it is best to consult with an experienced distracted driving injury lawyer as soon as an accident occurs.

What Are My Legal Options After a Distracted Driving Crash?

If you or a loved one were injured in a distracted driving accident caused by someone else’s negligence, there are several legal options available to you. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to:

  • Filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance: In some cases, victims of distracted driving accidents may be able to pursue compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance company by filing an insurance claim.
  • Filing a Personal Injury Claim: If both parties fail to come to an agreement or if there is disagreement over who was at fault for the collision, victims may need to file a personal injury claim in order to receive compensatory damages.
  • Filing with your own insurance: Victims of distracted driving accidents can also seek compensation through their own auto insurance provider by filing an uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) policy claim.

These types of claims allow victims to recover compensation for the damages they have suffered, including past and future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.


Have you or a loved one been injured in a Maryland distracted driving accident? If you or someone you care about has recently been injured in Maryland distracted driving accident, contact the dedicated injury legal team at the Law Offices of Larry B. Litt. Our attorneys work tirelessly to recover maximum compensation on behalf of our injured clients. We have over 40 years of experience handling even the most complex accident cases, and know what it takes to succeed on our clients’ behalf. To learn more, and to schedule a free no-obligation consultation today, call 443-844-1528. Calling is free, and there is no fee unless we help you recover for your injury claim.