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Texting While Driving Is Popular Despite Risks

Posted on: November 21, 2014

Common sense and Maryland law tell us that using handheld cell phones while driving can be dangerous. Unfortunately, such cell phone use while driving is popular, according to a survey commissioned by AT&T and by Dr. David Greenfield, a psychiatry professor at The University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

In fact, researchers characterized texting, e-mailing and using social media while driving as “compulsive,” indeed worthy of physiological explanation.

“We compulsively check our phones because every time we get an update through text, e-mail or social media, we experience an elevation of dopamine, which is a neurochemical in the brain that makes us feel happy,” Greenfield said. “If that desire for a dopamine fix leads us to check our phones while we’re driving, a simple text can turn deadly.”

The survey also showed that 90 percent of respondents knew of the dangers of texting while driving; nevertheless motorists “rationalize their texting-and-driving behavior — a classic sign of addiction,” according to AT&T, which added, “Nearly three-in-ten said they can easily do several things at once, even while driving.  The rub, as Greenfield explained, is that “many objective studies show that’s not possible.”

AT&T reported a bright side:  “According to the research, those who are most likely to text and drive are also the most likely to take steps to stop.  And 82 percent of people who take action to stop texting and driving feel good about themselves.”

The survey goes hand in hand with AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign, which is aimed at discouraging texting while driving.  AT&T reported, “The campaign has inspired more than 5 million pledges to never text and drive.”

Apparently, the communications corporation, in conjunction with the campaign, also offers a free no-texting-while-driving cell phone application.

The state of Maryland has its own campaign to curb texting while driving when it leads to a serious accident.  One might call Maryland’s campaign “potential imprisonment.”

Enacted in October, “Jake’s Law” criminalizes causing a car accident resulting in death or serious injury while text messaging or using handheld cell phones.  Those convicted under the law may face a prison sentence up to a year, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

There are exceptions, such as the use of a global positioning system and trying to contact 911.

The law is named in memory of Jake Owen, a 5-year-old killed in 2011 when a driver using a cell phone struck Jake’s mother’s car while Jake was in the back seat.

Representing the Victim

Maryland law ideally will ensure the just punishment of motorists whose texting while driving leads to a serious motor vehicle accident.  As the AT&T survey shows, people text and drive no matter the risks, and serious injury or death can be the result.  In the aftermath of such a horrific event, there is another important legal consideration: justice for the victims.

The victims of texting-while-driving accidents in Maryland may be entitled to compensation for their injuries, to include medical expenses, lost time off of work, and pain and suffering.

If you are a motor vehicle accident victim or the loved one of a victim killed in a motor vehicle accident — to include a crash caused by someone who was texting and driving — then you deserve skilled legal representation by an experienced accident attorney.

Any attorney won’t do.  You want someone with extensive experience in Maryland personal injury law — an attorney with a proven track record of taking on insurance companies.  Get in Touch for a free consultation.

Justin Katz is a personal injury lawyer who represents injury victims in Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC
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