Distracted Driving Laws in Maine
With the increasing popularity of smartphones, distracted driving has become a significant issue for motorists in Maine. Distracted driving facts provided by the Virginia Tech University show that drivers who are distracted by cell phones while operating a motor vehicle are three times more prone to find themselves involved in an automobile accident than those who refrain from using cell phones or other mobile devices.
In response to such statistics, ME has passed distracted driving laws to combat the potentially disastrous effects of accidents caused by distractions. Overall, these laws differ from state to state, and have very different penalties once violated. To learn more about the laws on distracted driving in Maine, continue reading the article below.
What is distracted driving in Maine?
Distracted driving happens when you focus your attention on some other activity unrelated to operating the motor vehicle you are driving. Overall, this action is now a leading cause of auto accidents in the United States. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists different driving distractions into three different categories:
- Visual – Visual distractions include any sort of activity that averts your eyes from paying attention to what is happening on the road, such as texting and driving, using the radio or looking at a map, to name a few.
- Manual – A manual distraction is anything that causes you to remove your hands from the steering wheel of your car. This can include such things as eating, smoking or trying to take a photograph.
- Cognitive – Driving while distracted may also include actions that take your attention off of driving, such as arguing with a passenger or talking on the phone.
Some of the most common distracted activities include tasks that motorists are prone to engage in on a daily basis. As such, consider the following distractions that inhibit your driving ability:
- Reaching for an item, such as phones or purses
- Eating or drinking
- Grooming, such as combing your hair or shaving
- Watching videos
- Using a smartphone app
- Changing the radio station
- Taking a photo
- Chatting with passengers
Distracted Driving Laws in Maine for Handheld Devices
In order to reduce the damaging consequences related to distracted driving, many handheld electronic devices are not allowed to be used by motorists who are younger than 18 years of age. For instance, the state of Maine defines handheld devices as any of the following:
- Any handheld electronic device that is not part of the car’s operating equipment, which may include any of the following:
- Handheld electronic games
- Any text messaging device
- Any handheld computers
- Any other device used to send or receive emails
- Any mobile phone used to access wireless communication services
A general distracted driving law also covers any infraction whereby a motorist in ME operates a vehicle while also engaging in some activity that diminishes his or her ability to focus on driving. Thus, any activity not necessary to the operation of a motor vehicle or that impairs the operation of a car may be classified as a driving distraction.
Maine Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers
Maine laws on distracted driving prohibit any novice driver, which encompasses those who hold a learner’s permit or an intermediate license, from using any handheld device. The definition of a handheld device, as established by the state, is described in the previous section.
Texting and Driving Laws in Maine
Texting while driving laws have also been established in Maine in order to prevent accidents caused by distracted motorists who wish to exchange text messages while operating a vehicle. The action of texting and driving refers to the use of any handheld electronic device which is not part of a vehicle’s operation. Therefore, this includes all of the devices listed in previous sections. As a general rule, motorists may not use any of these devices to read or compose text messages, emails or instant messages. On the other hand, text messaging does not include the use of navigation systems such as GPS devices.
Maine Distracted Drivers Regulations for CDL Holders
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) forbids all motorists who hold a commercial driver’s license from cell phone use while driving commercial vehicles, which typically carry hazardous materials or transport a significant number of passengers.
Distracted Driving Penalties in Maine
Drivers who are younger than 18 years of age and found in violation of Maine’s texting and driving laws are subject to incur a penalty of $50 for the first offense, and $250 for a second or subsequent offense thereafter. In the case of motorists who are 18 years of age or older, texting and driving fines are typically $250 or higher. In any case, if a motorist is found guilty of a second offense within three years of their first one, he or she will incur a fine of $500 or more, as well as a suspension of driving privileges. The minimum suspension periods are:
- 30 days with two guilty infractions within a three-year period
- 60 days if the driver has three convictions within a three-year period
- 90 days with four or more convictions within a three-year period
Ways to Prevent Distracting Driving in Maine
There are several ways to stop texting and driving, as well as strategies to avoid engaging in other activities that can result in distractions while operating a vehicle. Some tips that can help reduce the odds of a distracted driving accident include the following:
- Whenever possible, do not engage in long conversations with passengers while driving. Moreover, it is advisable to limit the number of passengers riding with you as well as the activities they are engaging in, which may distract you from driving.
- Use your cell phone in emergency situations only. Do not use it to conduct a casual conversation. If you find yourself in an emergency, safely park on the side of a road and make sure to come to a complete stop before using your mobile device.
- Do not eat while driving. Taking your hands off the wheel to eat or drink may cause the spilling of foods or liquids, creating a major distraction.
- Multi-tasking creates driving distractions. Thus, do not multi-task while operating a vehicle. Doing things such as talking on the phone, searching for a radio station or send a text message may diminish your attention.
- If you are tired, get off the road. Tired drivers are four times more likely to be involved in an accident. Therefore, it is best to pull over and take a rest rather than risk an accident.