Every time you get behind the wheel of an automobile, there’s so much to enjoy. There’s so much at risk. Combine a 2-ton vehicle and 2 seconds of distraction. The equation may result in a slight scare while you continue your trek. The equation may result in lives changed forever.
Last month, Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland signed “Jake’s Law”. The inspiration was 5-year-old Jake Owen. Jake was in the back seat while his mother, Susan, waited for Baltimore traffic to break. 23-year-old Devin X. McKeiver was driving at 62 mph while talking on the phone. The rear-end collision between the two vehicles, at full speed, took the life of Jake.
Jake’s mother considers the use of phones while driving as the “new drunk driving”. Her efforts have brought increased penalties for drivers using cellphones. Instead of a $1000 fine and 2 minor offenses on the record for Devin – after taking a life – penalties have been increased – for a driver causing injury or death while using a cellphone - to a $5000 fine and up to a year in jail. That’s a step in the right direction.
Based on my point of view, as can be seen in the photo below, I’m a fan of increased penalties for drivers using cellphones. A week ago, my car was rear-ended at the intersection of York and Warren Roads. I would have much rather left the scene in my car but it was in an ambulance. The driver was distracted and her vehicle was stationary about 1.5 vehicle-lengths behind. Hands were off the steering wheel. The head was down. To our left, the turn lane moved on the green light. Our lane remained at the red light. The driver reacted as if our lane was moving as well. 2 seconds. While I’m in occasionally intense pain, I can walk. It could have been much worse. Was the conversation worth it? For the sake of everyone on the road and the person that could be at the other end of the line, wait.