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Study probes connection between cellphone laws and car accidents

The advent of smartphones and GPS technologies has given Baltimore residents a great deal of assistance and entertainment in their daily lives. The technologies cause some problems as well, however, particularly when drivers get distracted when using them on the road, leading to a car accident.

Now, a new study is looking into whether states' laws that limit or ban cellphone use are having an impact on car accidents and safety on the road. The study, done by West Virginia University, will analyze data to determine if laws are affecting accident rates among drivers under 25 years of age. The project will continue for the next few years.

Maryland is one of 10 states that have banned handheld phone use by drivers. Nearly half of all states have banned texting while driving. Nonetheless, the numbers suggest many drivers continue to use cellphones while driving.

While the study aims to prevent future accidents, for those who have been involved in an accident where the other driver was texting and driving, a personal injury suit may provide some relief.

While a plaintiff must meet the elements of negligence to prove her case, typically, a violation of a state statute creates a presumption of negligence as a matter of law. Accordingly, if a person shows the other driver was texting and driving, and that activity was prohibited by state law, fault may be established.

The other driver may then be presumed to have caused the accident due to his violation of state law, and he must prove he was not negligent. At the very least, he must show his negligence was not the proximate cause of the accident.

Source: Huffington Post, "WVU to study effect of cellphone laws on crashes," Vicki Smith, Jan. 9, 2013

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