Results tagged “texting and driving” from Maryland Car Accident Lawyer Blog

Spying on Texting Drivers

October 17, 2012

Text Distracted Driving.jpgThe Federal government wants to know whether you've been texting and driving. They have authorized grants to two states, Connecticut and Massachusetts, for anti-texting enforcement programs. Each state will get $275,000.00.

This money will be used to train police officers on how to detect texters--not only from their patrol cars, but from highway overpasses and more covert locations. I'm not sure how this will work, exactly. One police officer on a bridge, watching traffic come toward him. That officer radios to another officer on the road below, and tells him which car to pull over. Maybe it's as simple as that.

One thing is for sure--some people who flaunt Maryland's cell phone use laws are getting crafty--many keep the phones down below window-level to avoid police detection. Of course, that makes it harder to see the road, which is more likely to cause crashes.

Maryland automobile accident lawyers should have an arsenal of discovery ready to determine when illegal cell phone use may have contributed to an accident. In some cases, this involves written questions, requests for production of cell phone records, and subpoenas to cell phone companies.

See the U.S. Department of Transportation's press release and Ray LaHood's blog.

Proving The Defendant Was Texting While Driving

August 24, 2012

Txting Drvng Reaper.jpgWith so many accidents caused by distracted driving, it's a fair bet that, in any given accident, the negligent driver was on a handheld phone or handling e-mail or text messages while driving. In many cases, that fact is not important: if the defendant admits liability, or if liability is clear (for example, the garden variety rear-end collision).

In other cases, though, proving that the defendant was distracted can go a long way toward showing that their version of events is likely wrong (if not an outright lie). Yesterday I deposed a representative of AT&T to find out everything I could about the phone usage of an automobile accident defendant at the time of the accident.

These types of depositions take a lot of legwork. When I get the transcript, I'll post it on the website. If you have a case where you suspect illegal cell phone use at the time of an accident, here are some things to think about:


  • Even before a lawsuit is filed, immediately send a preservation letter to save any cell phone owned by the defendant, and the content of any text messages on the phone at the time of the accident
  • Find out what cell phone carriers and cell phone numbers the defendant had at the time of the collision
  • Either get the defendant to sign an authorization, or send a subpoena requesting all cell phone records (including voice, data and text messaging records) for the time of the collision
  • Once you have those records, work with the cellphone carrier to set up a corporate designee deposition to decipher what the records mean--they typically come to you in spreadsheet form with various codes and abbreviations
  • During the deposition, identify the meaning of every column and term generically
  • During the deposition, figure out if you can verify whether there was any use of the phone during the collision

AT&T, for example, does not keep records of the content of text messages--they can only tell what time those messages were sent or received (they can't tell what time the messages were read). In a catastrophic injury case, a forensic computer specialist may be able to dissect the phone to determine that type of information. Your best bet is showing a string of text messages back and forth near the time of the accident. Even better is a phone call log. Data usage (Apps, Facebook, internet usage) from a smartphone can be more difficult--many programs run in the background, so the fact that a phone is uploading or downloading data does not mean that someone is actively using the phone.

Finally, be sure to find out in discovery whether the defendant gets e-mail on his phone. If so, request a copy of all e-mail messages sent and received near the time of the accident.

Texting and Driving Infographic

August 23, 2012

Courtesy OnlineSchools.com
Texting Inforgraphic.jpg

Distracted Driving: Test Your Skills

June 20, 2012

distracted driving accident attorney.jpgA driving simulator called One Simple Decision, made by Virtual Driver Interactive http://www.driverinteractive.com/index.php is attempting to show driver's the short and long-term consequences of texting and driving. It starts with the driver driving, and then instructs the driver to begin texting. When the (hopefully) inevitable collision occurs, the driver goes through a first-person interrogation by police, medical personnel, and a judge in an attempt to show chronic texters the real-life consequences of distracted driving.

The allure of a simulation like this is the desire to beat it, like any videogame. I know the dangers of texting and driving, but (I suspect like most people), I think that I can do it relatively safely. So what happens when a driver beats the simulator? Is that a license to text and drive? I'd like to know the simulators statistics.

Regardless, it is clear that in a controlled situation, the driver is going to bring his or her A-game. In real life, there will be less attention to detail, and a higher likelihood of a distracted driving accident.

I did a drunk driving simulation at a museum in Colorado when I was a kid--the simulation would go through what it was like to drive when sober versus drunk. Granted, I didn't know how to drive then, but that simulator didn't work at all (I think something was wrong with the driving wheel). For $42,000 per simulator, One Simple Decision should be a little more realistic.

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