O’Malley Signs Jake’s Law; Penalties Increase In Distracted Driving Accidents

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — It was an emotional day in Annapolis for the family of a 5-year-old boy killed in a distracted driving accident. Monday, Governor Martin O’Malley signed Jake’s Law.

Mary Bubala reports it increases penalties on those who hurt others in distracted driving accidents.

A 2011 crash killed 5-year-old Jake Owen. The driver that struck Jake’s family car from behind was talking on his cell phone and only paid a $1,000 fine.

His mother pushed for a new law in Jake’s name. Monday, the family was in Annapolis when the governor signed Jake’s Law.

Now a driver who causes injury or death while talking or texting can go to jail for up to a year and has to pay a $5,000 fine.

“Obviously nothing is going to bring Jake back, but we are hoping with this new law, it will prevent other families from having to go through what we did,” said Jake’s mom, Susan Yum.

Getting the new law was not easy and almost didn’t happen. The House and Senate passed different versions but in the end, they compromised and passed the bill.

Yum never gave up because she knew the stakes were too high.

The driver who slammed into the car carrying Jake was on his phone, going 62 miles an hour. He didn’t see that traffic had stopped in front of him and never hit his brakes.

“We all really worked hard and had such great support from our family and friends and our entire community,” Yum said. “We hope this sends a clear message to people that nothing is more important than the safety of yours and anyone else on the road and no call or text is worth jeopardizing that.”

Jake’s Law takes effect Oct. 1. So far, Illinois and Utah have adopted similar measures.

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