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Maryland expands distracted driving law

With distracted driving and its associated car accidents becoming increasingly hot topics in today’s media, legislators throughout the nation have been taking action to prevent deadly wrecks. Now, the state of Maryland has become the most recent addition to the list of states that prohibit cell phone use while driving; the state has made the use of handheld phones while driving a primary offense. That means that drivers who are seen using their cell phone can be pulled over specifically for that reason. In the past, cell phone use had been a secondary offense that could only be cited if the driver was pulled over for another violation.

The new law went into effect on Oct. 1. Not only does the law make it easier for officers to pull offenders over, it also increases the penalties for drivers who are caught red-handed. A first offense will result in a $75 fine, which is an increase of $35 from previous rules. Second offenders will be fined $125, and any subsequent violation will result in a $175 fine. These increased amounts show that legislators in the area are serious about cracking down on the ever-growing number of drivers in the area that focus on their phones instead of on the road. The ban does make an exception, however, for phone calls to 911.

In addition, the law will continue to prohibit any kind of phone use among school bus drivers, drivers under age 18 and those who are still holding learner’s permits, no matter their age.

These provisions are almost certain to affect personal injury rates, as cell phone use or distracted driving is implicated in nearly 60 percent of crashes in the area. Approximately half of the fatal vehicle accidents in the region were attributable to distracted driving, whether technology-based or otherwise. All drivers in Maryland deserve a safe roadway that is free of inattentive drivers, and this legislation reinforces that ideal.

Source:, “No handheld cell phone use while driving in Md. beginning Oct. 1” Erica Jones, Sep. 30, 2013