Washington DC Car Accident Attorney Hails Maryland's New Ban On Hand-Held Cell Phones And Driving

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Michael A. Abelson, a Washington DC lawyer who handles motor vehicle accident cases, says the law is a key step toward curbing one of the "most preventable" causes of accidents.

Michael A. Abelson, a Washington DC attorney who handles car accident cases, says a new Maryland law banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving will bring an immediate improvement in highway safety.

"Distracted driving is one of the fastest growing and most preventable hazards on the road. This law will go a long way towards getting drivers' attention back to driving, not talking," said Abelson, a Washington, DC lawyer who represents personal injury and car accident victims.

Lawyer Mike Abelson is founder of the Abelson Law Firm, with offices in Washington DC and the Maryland cities of Baltimore and Frederick.

Maryland is the eighth state to ban drivers from talking on a handheld cell phone under a new law that took effect Oct. 1. Maryland banned sending text messages while driving last year.

"We are making important gains against distracted driving," Abelson said. "But the scale of the problem and the power of the temptation to make even a quick call or text means it will take more laws and education to keep making progress."

In 2008, an estimated 21 percent of 1.6 million injury crashes were reported to have involved distracted driving, according the National Highway Safety Administration.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's website distraction.gov reports that:

  • Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
  • Using a cell phone while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent.

The push to ban hand-held cell phones while driving began more a decade ago and encountered resistance by lawmakers who thought it would be too intrusive on individual rights. The law that passed takes a gentler approach to offenders than some safety experts advocated.

The bill sets a $40 fine for a first offense and $100 for continuing violations, but being ticketed for the first time will not add points to a motorist's driving record.

Violating the cell phone ban is a secondary offense which means police cannot stop a motorists only for using a hand-held cell phone. There must be a primary offense, such as speeding or erratic driving.

Abelson noted that seat belt laws became tougher as the public came to appreciate the importance of buckling up. He predicted the cell phone law will evolve in the same direction.

"This is a start, a big start," he said. "Once people see how a reduction in hand-held cell phone makes our roads safer, they will wonder what took so long."

Only eight states and Washington DC have banned handheld cell use for all drivers. California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington state currently ban handheld cell phone use while driving. Delaware also has approved a ban, but it doesn't take effect until January.

About the Abelson Law Firm

The Abelson Law Firm, based in Washington, D.C., assists victims of serious personal injuries. Senior attorney Michael A. Abelson has received the Lawyer of the Year Award from the Trial Lawyers Association of Washington, D.C., and has been listed as among “The Cream of the Legal Establishment” by Washingtonian Magazine. Abelson has more than 35 years of legal experience, and he is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates as well as being a sustaining member of the American Association for Justice. For a free case evaluation, call (888) 797-4242 or use the firm’s online form.

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