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Texting Teen Charged With Manslaughter in Maryland Accident

Nineteen-year- old Elizabeth Haley Meyers was texting when her car slammed into a motorcycle on Route 3 in Gambrills, Maryland last October. Thirty-year-old motorcyclist Jonathan Wesley Roberts died from the injuries he suffered in the accident. Meyers has been charged with negligent manslaughter and faces ten years in prison. This was the first time “manslaughter due to texting” was charged in Anne Arundel County. Sadly, it probably will not be the last time. 

Texting and driving endangers lives, yet drivers — especially young ones — continue to engage in this reckless behavior. Consider the following 2011 statistics, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: 

  • Among those surveyed, 25 percent of teens reported that they respond to a text message once or more every time they drive
  • More teens die from texting while driving than from drunk driving
  • One third of all drivers send and receive text messages while driving 

Maryland recently stiffened its texting while driving laws. Drivers are prohibited from using a text messaging device to write, send or read a text or electronic message while operating a motor vehicle in motion or in the travel portion of the roadway. Classified as a misdemeanor crime, texting while driving carries a fine of not more than $500 and adds points to the driver’s license. In accidents involving significant injuries or death, the penalties care much more severe. Using a global positioning system (GPS) and text messaging to contact 911 are two notable exceptions to the ban. 

In the case against Ms. Meyers, liability was easy to prove. She was seen looking down while driving with one hand and texting with the other, and her phone records confirmed the witness’ account. But not all cases are this simple. Often, attorneys must conduct thorough investigations into the circumstances of an auto accident in order to prove that texting while driving was the cause. Only then can they help injured clients in La Plata and throughout Maryland obtain the full compensation to which they are entitled. 

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