Distracted driving is one of Maryland’s primary concerns when it comes to its motorists, roads and highways. Because MD recognizes the serious threat posed by this sort of behavior, the state has passed strict laws against it. Auto accidents that happen due to driving distractions tend to yield bodily harm and even damages to private properties.

However, it is important to note that there are exceptions to these guidelines. For instance, while most distracted driving fines and penalties are related to texting and talking on the phone while operating a vehicle, there are exceptions made for circumstances deemed urgent. To learn more about the distracted driving laws in Maryland, continue reading the article below.

What is distracted driving in Maryland?

By definition, distracted driving occurs whenever you focus on something other than or in addition to operating a motor vehicle. It is presently one of the leading causes of accidents in the United States, and the occurrences of distracted driving accidents are only going up in frequency each year. These various driving distractions are divided into different categories by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and include the following four categories for Maryland:

  • Auditory – This particular distraction involves anything that you may be listening to that is not related to driving.
  • Visual – A visual driving distraction is any sort of behavior that leads you to take your eyes off the road. This includes texting and driving and operating your radio or MP3 player.
  • Manual – Manual distractions are behaviors which cause you to remove your hands from the wheel of your car. This includes activities like eating, smoking or applying makeup.
  • Cognitive – Driving while distracted can include behaviors that avert your attention from driving, such as arguing with someone else in the car or having a conversation over the phone.

Distracted Driving Laws in Maryland for Handheld Devices

Cell phone use while driving is forbidden for all motorists, regardless of their age or experience. The state of Maryland considers handheld devices to include any of the following:

  • All handheld electronic devices that are a component of the car’s operating equipment, including:
    • Handheld computers
    • Text messaging device
    • Handheld electronic games
    • Any other device used to send or receive emails
  • All cellular phones that can be utilized to access wireless communication services

As it pertains to distracted driving laws in MD, operating a vehicle means that the car is being operated on a road with a running motor, even if it has stopped moving but is still running while in traffic, at a stop sign or at a traffic light. Laws against distracted driving do not apply to vehicles safely stopped on the side of the road or that are pulled off the road.

Furthermore, the distracted driving law in Maryland states that it is unlawful to use a handheld while operating a car that is in motion. The distracted driving penalties for someone who causes a serious injury or death can include incarceration and/or a substantial monetary traffic fine.

Maryland Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers

Laws on distracted driving in Maryland prohibit all novice drivers, regardless of whether they hold a learner’s permit or a provisional driver’s license, from using any handheld device or cell phone, with or without a hands-free aid. This is considered a secondary offense, meaning that a law enforcement officer must first notice you committing some other violation before ticketing you for this infraction.

Texting and Driving Laws in Maryland

Texting while driving in Maryland includes using any handheld devices that are not considered parts of a motor vehicle. The ban prohibits the use of these handhelds for text messaging, whether composing, reading or sending them, as well as any other electronic communications such as emails or social media posting. However, text messaging does not include using global positioning or navigation systems, like a GPS, if they are integrated into the automobile.

Maryland Distracted Drivers Regulations for CDL Holders

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) forbids cell phone use while driving for all motorists who hold a commercial driver’s license. Thus, these professional drivers may not use any types of handheld devices while operating their vehicles.

Distracted Driving Penalties in Maryland

Distracted driving fines for first-time offenders is a maximum of $83. A second offense can cost as much as $140, and third offenses carry fines of up to $160. Furthermore, all of these fines also include additional costs that are related to court proceedings. In addition, it is important to note that points may only be assessed in conjunction with a crash.

Texting and driving fines incur a fine of $70 and a one-point assessment on your driving record. A crash while texting may result in a fine of $110 and three points on your driving record. For novice drivers in Maryland, texting while driving can carry a maximum penalty of $500 for texting. Moreover, Jake’s Law imposes a fine of up to $5,000 and three years in jail should you injure or kill someone while you are using a handheld device to call or text someone.

Ways to Prevent Distracting Driving in Maryland

Finding ways to stop texting and driving is of significant importance in order to reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted driving, as well as the injuries, fatalities and property damages that occur as a consequence. Some statistics and tips that can help reduce the odds of a distracted driving accident include the following:

  • Tired drivers are 400 percent more likely to find themselves in an accident. If you are a driver who is prone to succumbing to fatigue, the best strategy is to remove yourself from the driving environment by pulling off the road and getting rest.
  • By limiting the number of people in your care, especially if you happen to be a younger and/or inexperienced driver, you can reduce the amount of activity inside the car you are operating. Consequently, you can reduce your distracted driving
  • You should not use a cell phone to make a call unless you find yourself in an emergency situation. In those instances, make sure to be in a safe situation where you are pulled off with the car stopped. Avoid having social or casual conversations while you are behind the wheel.
  • Eating while driving is another major distraction. Spilling your food or drink in the car can cause a major distraction from driving.
  • Multi-tasking and doing things like talking on the phone, searching for a radio station or even using your phone to send a text all contribute to distracted driving.
Last updated on Wednesday, October 14 2020.