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New Maryland law makes handheld cellphone use while driving a primary offense

In response to the apparent dangers facing motorists when they drive while distracted, Maryland's General Assembly recently passed a law that strengthens its distracted driving laws.

Law enforcement officers in Maryland will now be able to stop a driver solely for violating the ban against handheld cellphone usage. Previously, the handheld cellphone ban was only a secondary law, which meant drivers could only be cited for a violation if they were first pulled over for violating a different law.

Now, motorists found talking on a handheld cellphone while driving will face fines of $75, $125 and $175 - for first, second and third offenses respectively. Maryland drivers are still allowed to talk on a handheld cellphone while they are stopped at a red light, however.

In addition to this strengthened law, Maryland drivers are also banned from sending or reading text messages while behind the wheel. Drivers who text while on the road are 23 times more likely to cause a motor vehicle collision, according to a study conducted by Virginia Tech.

In addition, novice drivers in Maryland are not permitted to use a cellphone of any type while they are driving, including phones with technology that allows them to communicate hands-free.

Distracted driving continues to be a serious problem in Maryland and across the country. More people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2011 than the year prior.

People injured in motor vehicle collisions caused by distracted drivers may be able to recover compensation for the damage caused. Skilled personal injury attorneys can advise individuals in such situations to ensure their rights are protected.

Source: WVVA, "Md. strengthens distracted driving law," April 8, 2013.

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