Over the past couple of years in Maryland, drivers have had to learn new traffic rules in order to avoid fines. In states across the country, distracted driving has been a big focus in the minds of safety officials and lawmakers. Traffic laws have changed here and throughout the U.S, making it difficult sometimes for drivers to keep up.
The legal changes started in Maryland back in 2009, with texting behind the wheel being the primary focus. It is a traffic violation in the state to text or read texts while driving, even if stopped at a light or sign. That’s a primary offense that costs drivers $70 if caught. Some lawmakers question whether all-around cell phone use should be treated as seriously as texting.
Since last year, using a handheld cell phone while driving has been treated as a traffic violation, but it is a secondary offense. That means that a driver could be cited for the offense only if they are caught violating another, primary offense traffic law. But would it be a safer idea to make handheld phone use a primary offense like texting?
Some advocates for stricter distracted driving laws see that change as a smart move to prevent car accidents. Opponents against stricter distracted driving laws see such rules as potential wastes of law enforcement’s time. People have continued to violate distracted driving laws, and officers who cite them for it will wind up off of the streets in traffic court disputes, while more serious offenses take place on the roads.
What do you think about distracted driving laws in the state? Are they too strict, and do you think that they are effective? If you could change them, what would they be and why? We will keep you informed should any further changes in the laws be approved.
Herald-Mail: “Talking and texting on hand-held cellphones: ‘They’re still doing it,’” Dan Dearth, Oct. 15, 2011
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