The Role of Smartphones in Beltway Crashes

Without a doubt, roadway accidents are one of the more frequent common denominators for most people in this country. With the millions of cars and drivers on the road at any one time, it is a certainty that someone somewhere will be involved in a traffic accident by the time you finished reading this sentence. Whether that crash is mild or serious, inconsequential or fatal, the circumstances will most likely determine the outcome.

As Baltimore automobile and commercial trucking accident lawyers, Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, is a law firm dedicated to helping the men, women and children who are involved in severe and life-altering road collisions here in Maryland, as well as in the District of Columbia. No matter who you are, or what you drive or ride in -- car, bus, minivan or motorcycle -- there is a very good chance that you or someone you love will end up in some kind of motor vehicle accident during your lifetime.

Although it may seem pessimistic to say, being injured in some form or another is a consequence of living, much less driving a car or truck on public roadways. But from our vantage point as personal injury lawyers, we find it hard to accept that the costs resulting from severe and debilitating injuries received during a negligence-related auto accident should be borne solely by the victim.

In fact, the laws of the state of Maryland allow individuals who have been harmed by the thoughtless or negligent actions of another person to make a claim for damages in the event of a serious personal injury accident. Because of this, we are ready and willing to lend a hand and guide victims of injury-related car, motorcycle and trucking-related crashes through the process of filing a claim following an auto-related personal injury accident.

Tragically, there may never be a total end to the carnage that takes place on our city streets, interstates, and beltways, but there are things that everyone can do to reduce the chances of these types of unnecessary, painful and costly traffic collisions in the future. Putting to work that old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” it isn’t necessarily a stretch to consider the advantages to taking preventive measures with the hope of limiting the number of traffic accidents going forward.

As auto accident lawyers, the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen has seen enough people hurt by careless drivers to know that some activities in a motor vehicle should be curtailed. Specifically, we are talking about cellphone use, which these days includes the ubiquitous smartphone. Whether the device in question is an Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Blackberry or Google Nexus, among others, it is easy to see how these multimedia devices can distract a driver from his main job -- that of safely operating his car or truck.

It is no secret that using smartphones for email, texting, social networking and other activities can be even more dangerous than having too much to drink and then getting behind the wheel. Numerous traffic safety advocates and government agencies all around the globe have identified use of cellphones -- and now smartphones -- as one of the major causes of traffic-related injury accidents. Studies have found that about a quarter of younger drivers -- those in the late teens to early 20s -- routinely use smartphones for email and social networking as they drive.

If anyone wonders about the danger presented by this type of activity while driving, consider the results of one British study that found drivers who are involved in sending and receiving messages on Facebook experienced a 38-percent reduction in reaction time compared to individuals who were not similarly distracted. When compared to typical levels of impairment associated with drinking and driving and marijuana use by motorists, smartphone use represents an even greater danger to the driving public.

The findings by researchers that point to diminished driver response time of almost 40 percent should not be overlooked or dismissed in any way. This is because -- aside from detecting a potentially hazardous situation on the road -- reacting to that hazard is apparently slowed markedly. This combination of observed impairments to drivers, researchers have suggested, will ultimately be seen as an increase in collisions down the road. And as we know, the ramifications of automobile accidents affect not only the driver, but also his or her passengers, as well as others in nearby traffic.

The incredible potential for smartphones to become a greater and greater danger to safety of the road-going public should not be lost on anyone. Just as alcohol- and drug-related DUI have become serious and reviled offenses in the eyes of the law and the general public, so may smartphone use by drivers. However, the activity is so common among a large portion of the motoring public that change may come slowly.

As experienced trial lawyers, we have seen what comes from distracted driving. There is no good traffic accident, but there are plenty of bad ones. It should be recognized that distracted driving -- whether due to talking on a cellphone, texting on a smartphone, or carrying on an in-car conversation -- is a serious problem that needs to be curbed if we ever hope to reduce the number of senseless roadway wrecks in the future.

With over six million road accidents taking place every year across the U.S., it may seem like a monumental task to make any kind of a dent in those statistics. However, there are things that we as motorists can all do to improve the safety of ourselves and our families when traveling our roadways. We all have a stake in traffic safety, so putting away that cellphone, smartphone or other electronic device may very well be for the best. Or, if you absolutely need to get the information on that device, perhaps allow a passenger to check it for you.

By paying closer attention to what is going on in front of your car, we can perhaps cut down the frequency of distracted driving. Here in Maryland, it is illegal to text or even talk without a hands-free feature on one’s mobile device while driving. Furthermore, Maryland’s texting law is what is known as a “primary” law, which means that if a patrolman observes a driver holding a cellphone and talking or texting, that officer can pull the motorist over an issue a citation.

Unfortunately, we may never eliminate all injury-related and fatal accidents that occur in Maryland each year. Because of this, personal injury lawyers such as the legal staff at Lebowitz & Mzhen are ready to assist victims and their families. Our job is to help people who have been hurt due to the negligence of another motorist. We help victims understand their rights under the laws of this state and, when necessary, prepare and file either a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death claim against the party(s) responsible for the traffic accident that caused the injury or fatality.

If you know of someone who has been badly hurt in a passenger car accident, a commercial trucking wreck, or a motorcycle crash, we recommend that they contact an experienced auto injury lawyer to discuss their case and learn more about their options going forward. Our legal experts know that when a client is better educated regarding their options under the law, he or she can make a more informed decision regarding recovery of damages. If you find yourself in a similar situation, please call us at (800) 654-1949, or email either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.