Distracted driving a leading cause of Maine car accidents

Last September, Senator Bill Diamond, announced that Maine would attempt to join 30 other states by passing a bill to ban texting while driving in Maine. Currently, Maine’s distracted driving law for texting is a secondary offense, meaning there needs to be another violation of the law for a police officer to pull a vehicle over.

Distracted driving and cell phone use is a primary cause of Maine automobile accidents. Our Maine injury lawyers handle many cases in which distraction was a key factor in causing the accident.
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Tragically, such accidents are not in short supply.Seacoastonline reports that a teen was killed on Interstate 295, sustaining fatal injuries after crashing her vehicle. It is believed that texting was one reason for the accident. Coincidentally, the accident was within 5 miles of an April 2008 Interstate 295 crash that also killed a young female that had dropped her phone while driving, which reportedly caused her to cross over the median into oncoming traffic.

Though cell phone use and texting are the most common kinds of distracted driving, Distraction.Gov breaks it down into three main categories.

The first, visual, takes your eyes away from the road.

Manual, the second, occurs when you take your hands off the wheel.

The last category is cognitive in which your mind wanders away from the road onto something else. Other distractions, in addition to cell phones, are things like, eating, reading maps, fixing your hair or make-up, GPS systems, or changing the radio station.

Numerous studies have made the consequences of distracted driving quite clear:

-Drivers using PDA’s or cell phones are 4 times more likely to be seriously injured in a crash.

-16% of all drivers under age 20 involved in fatal crashes reported being distracted while driving.

-448,000 people were injured, and 5,474 were killed in crashes that involved a distracted driver.

-In terms of a driver’s reaction time, cell phone users’ slowed reactions are equivalent to someone driving under the influence with a blood alcohol concentration of .08.

-20% of injury-related crashes involved distracted driving.

-995 crashes involved cell phones as the primary distraction.

Maine’s cell phone and texting laws are somewhat loose compared to other states. As of January 2011, the Governors Highway Safety Association reports that it is against the law to drive distracted in Maine. However, Maine only bans cell phone and text messaging for drivers 17 and under as a primary offense. For all other drivers it is considered a secondary offense in which another law has to be violated in order to ticket.

Texting is one of the most dangerous kinds of distracted driving because it involves all three categories mentioned previously. Texting while driving takes your mind off of driving, your hands off the steering wheel, and your eyes off the road all at the same time.

Maine drivers are urged to make a New Year’s resolution for 2011: Don’t text or talk while driving. Set the standard to be safer drivers this year in hopes of making the roadways safer for you and your loved one. Abstinence from distraction could just save a life in 2011.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Maine automobile accident, contact the Maine injury lawyers at Peter Thompson & Associates for assistance. For a free and confidential appointment call 1-800-804-2004.

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