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Posted on 06-09-2015

Baltimore Auto Accidents Due to Distracted Driving

As a Baltimore Chiropractor that spends the vast majority of my time caring for patients involved in auto accidents, it is becoming clear that auto accidents and whiplash injuries that result in headaches, neck pain, and back pain are becoming an epidemic. There are more cars on the road than ever before and there are more distractions behind the wheel than ever before. Years ago we only had to worry about DUI/DWI and perhaps some loud music behind the wheel.  With the addition of smart devices that buzz, tweet, and update in real time drivers are distracted at the greatest rate in recent history. Not surprisingly, this has lead to increased crashes, increased auto accident injuries, and in some cases, more deaths that could have otherwise been avoided had the driver focused on driving.

Distracted driving is defined as any activity that can distract a person's attention away from driving a vehicle. Types of distractions that contribute to distracted driving include:

  • Texting
  • Speaking on a cell phone/smart phone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Grooming/applying make up
  • Reading
  • Using navigation systems
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting radio/CD player/MP3 player
  • Drinking or being under the influence of any substance that impacts reaction time (illicit drugs, prescription drugs)

Fortunately law makers in Maryland realize the importance of making sure that drivers are focused on the road. They have enacted laws that prohibit the use of a handheld phone for either texting or driving. Police are legally allowed to issue a ticket if they see a driver using their cell phone in the car. The fees are $83 for a first offense, $140 for a second offense, and $160 per offense thereafter.

Maryland lawmakers also enacted Jake's Law. It states that a driver that causes serious injury or death while walking or texting on a cell phone may receive a prison sentence of up to 3 years and a fine of up to $5,000.

So it begs the question: what can we do to focus on driving rather than being distracted?

  • Put your phone away- Out of sight is out of mind. Put it out of reach, in the glove box, or in the back seat.
  • Have a designated communicator- Pass the phone to another occupant of the vehicle. Have them text or call on your behalf so that you can keep your eyes on the road.
  • Hold each other accountable - If you are a passenger in a vehicle and you see a driver being distracted, volunteer to drive or to take over communications.
  • Pull over- We all know emergencies happen and sometimes we just need to get to our phones. Where it is safe, pull over and put your car in park. And no, texting at a red light is not a good use of this.
  • Don't forget to fasten your safety belt. If you are involved in a crash, having your seat belt buckled is still single handedly the best choice for saving your life and preventing ejection and death if you are unfortunately involved in a Baltimore auto accident.

You can check out information regarding Jake's Law and other issues regarding distracted driving here.

As they say, "accidents happen." But that doesn't mean that we have to accept them as inevitable. We all need to do our part to keep the roads safe and to focus on arriving safely. Once we arrive at our destination, we are free to call, text, and tweet until our heart's content. For now, if you, or someone you know has been injured in a Baltimore auto accident as a result of distracted driving please contact Mid-Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic at (443) 842-5500. We would be happy to help!

Dr. Gulitz

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