A new law relating to texting and driving in Maryland goes into effect on Saturday October 1, 2011. The new law makes texting and driving on Maryland roads a primary offense for which a police officer can pull a person over and give them a ticket. The new law clarifies the old texting and driving law and now it is illegal to read or send texts while driving. The two exceptions are if you are texting a 911 emergency related text, it is not illegal and also if you are using a GPS on y our mobile device while driving it is ok. In a nutshell, if a Maryland State Trooper or Maryland police officer sees you reading text messages while driving, reading email messages while driving or sending messages, you will get pulled over and will get a ticket and one point towards suspension of your driving license. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that almost a thousand people are killed each year due to cell phone use (texting and driving). About 16% of those fatalities are under 20 years old.
Another new Maryland traffic law relates to car accident deaths on Maryland Roads. the new law makes it a misdemeanor (a criminal offense) if you drive in a negligent manner and cause a death. Basically, until this new law, if you were negligent and struck a pedestrian in Maryland, you would get just a traffic ticket and may not even need to show up in Court. Now, Maryland Prosecutors will be able to prosecute those who cause the death of another person due to operating a car in a neglgient manner.
As a personal injury lawyer, an interesting development is the expansion of the universe of potential defendants due to texting and driving. For example, if someone is inovlved in a serious car crash and the car accident was caused by a driver texting a work related text or email, then the person injured or killed in the car crash could bring a lawsuit against not only the negligent driver, but also against the employer of the driver becuase the driver was acting as the agent of the employer at the time that the text message was sent. Often, employer have much larger insurance policies than individual drivers.