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How we can prevent texting and driving

The National Highway Safety Administration reports distracted driving accidents kill eight people every day, and injure more than 1,000. Though it is harder to measure how many of these crashes involve cell phone use, studies have shown an increase in texting and driving. Despite the increase in safety features and technology in cars, road fatalities per vehicle mile traveled are on the rise, and the rising number of technological distractions taking drivers' eyes off the road almost certainly impact this.

While many states have laws restricting cellphone use by new drivers, only 14 states prohibit the use of handheld devices while driving - no matter your age. Maryland, for instance, bans the use of cellphones while driving unless with a hands-free device. An exception to this, is if a 9-1-1 call is necessary.

New iPhone feature to prevent texting and driving

Apple will now provide an option to put your phone on "do not disturb while driving." This feature, an expansion of the classic "do not disturb" phone setting, will prompt the driver to turn it on if the phone senses they are operating a vehicle. Apple's efforts are a major step in fighting distracted driving and the tragic accidents that occur because of it.

Penalties in Maryland for distracted driving

Maryland takes distracted driving very seriously. There is a range of penalties one can face if caught violating the law.

  • Maximum fine of $83 for first-time offenders
  • Maximum fine of $140 for second-time offenders
  • A fine of $160 for third-time offenders

Jake's Law, a law named after a distracted driving victim killed in a fatal crash, could result in a fine up to $5,000 or three years in prison if one causes a serious injury or death while using a cell phone.

To help prevent the urge to text and drive you'll want to - put your phone out of reach, use an app to block incoming calls or texts, utilize hands-free options in cars and make a commitment to not using your phone while driving. Together, we can help reduce the number of tragic accidents that happen because of distracted driving.

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