Maryland: Cell phone laws, legislation

Last updated: June 18, 2014
Maryland distracted driving update: Legislation that would allow felony prosecution of drivers who kill while distracted has been signed into law. The Senate and House sent “Jake’s Law” to the governor April 7. He signed it a week later. The family of a boy killed by a distracted driver pushed hard for enactment.

maryland state flagFive-year-old Jake Owen died in late 2011 after a driver distracted by a cell phone hit his family’s car. “There’s a hole in the law,” Delegate Luke Clippinger told the House Judiciary Committee considering his House Bill 1212 in late February.

Penalties for killing or causing serious injury under the new law include a year in prison and $5,000 fines. State Sen. Roger Manno termed it “emergency legislation.”

A get-tough law that upgraded enforcement of the state’s existing handheld cell phone law to primary status is now in effect. Distracted drivers also are subject to significant increases in fines for distracted driving violations.

First offenses now bring a $75 fine. A second offense could bring a ticket of up to $125, and a third to $175. (The old fine for violations range from $40 to $100.) The removal of the secondary enforcement provision of the handheld cell phone law means police can stop and cite violators for that reason alone. The legislature did water down the penalties in the 2013 bill. The changes went into effect Oct. 1.

Current distracted driving prohibitions:

  • Text messaging prohibited for all drivers.
  • Handheld cell phone use banned for all drivers. Fines between $75 and $175.
  • Drivers under the age of 18 prohibited from any use of cell phones.

Read the Maryland statutes (PDFs): Text messaging | Handheld cell phones | Under 18

Distracted driving legislation (2014):
House Bill 1212: Would create new offense of causing death or serious harm by text messaging while driving. Fine up to $5,000 and a year’s imprisonment (as amended, original bill called for three years). 12 points vs. license. aka Jake’s Law. Amended and approved by the Judiciary Committee on March 13. Approved by the House in a 111-25 vote of March 14. Amended and approved by the Senate in unanimous vote of March 26. To conference committee. Approved by both houses April 7. Signed by the governor April 14. (Clippinger)


Senate Bill 348
: Would set penalties for drivers who text message and cause serious injuries or deaths. Fines: Up to $5,000 and up to three years in prison. Similar to HB 1212, above. Approved by Judicial Proceedings in mid-March. Amended and approved by the full Senate in a 46-0 vote of March 20. (Manno)

SB 214: Would direct up to $250,000 of revenues from texting & driving tickets (25 percent) to distracted driving education via the University of Maryland. (Jennings)

Distracted driving news & notes (2014):
In the first six months of Maryland’s primary enforcement of distracted driving laws, almost 15,000 tickets were written, the state District Court says. The number of citations more than tripled when compared with a similar period before the toughened law went into effect in October 2013.

Delegate Luke Clippinger is a neighbor of the family who lost their 5-year-old to a distracted driver. His Jake’s Law would toughen existing penalties. His parents, of Federal Hill, worked with Clippinger on HB 1212. “If you’re in your car and … you’re paying no attention to what’s going on around you because you’ve got the time to text or Facebook, and you take somebody’s life or cause bodily harm, there should be a criminal penalty,” Clippinger says.

During debate on Jake’s Law, one lawmaker said texting & driving was more dangerous to teens than drunken driving. “It’s a cultural norm that we have to change. This is the right direction,” said Sen. Bill Ferguson, D-Baltimore City.

The ACLU has filed testimony in opposition to House Bill 1212 because of its clause that would require drivers in serious accidents to provide police with their phone numbers, service provider identity and email accounts. The ACLU said the bill was “on shaky ground” constitutionally. Clippinger told lawmakers said the phone-information demand was along the lines of blood tests for drunken-driving suspects. “You could argue a blood test is far more invasive than, ‘What’s your phone number?'” The wording was later removed by amendment.

2013 distracted driving legislation:
House Bill 753: Repeals secondary enforcement of Maryland distracted driving laws; states that bans on handheld electronic communications devices apply to any use on “the travel portion of the roadway,” not just while vehicle is in motion. Fines (after amendments): $75 (first offenses), then $125, then $175. (In the original bill, up to $500 and possible points.) Same as HB 104 of 2012. Approved by the House in a 106-29 vote taken March 21. Amended and approved April 1 by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Approved by the Senate in a 41-6 vote April 3. To conference committee. New version approved by the House (110-28 vote) and Senate (40-5 vote) on April 8. Signed into law by the governor April 8 and took effect Oct. 1, 2013. (Malone)

HB 759: General distracted driving prohibition. Outlaws operating vehicle “in an inattentive manner” that results in unsafe driving. Secondary enforcement. Specifies eating, grooming, use of electronic devices, etc. Same as HB 552 of 2012 and HB 1288 of 2011. (Malone)

Senate Bill 193: Calls for primary enforcement if a child under age 8 is in vehicle during a violation of handheld cell phone law. (King)

Senate Bill 339: Same as HB 753, above, and SB 217 of 2012. (Robey)

2013 distracted driving news & notes:
A 20-year-old woman has been hit with several manslaughter charges after she allegedly hit and killed a motorcyclist in Anne Arundel County. A warrant was served in early October on Elizabeth Haley Meyers, who is facing counts of negligent manslaughter while operating a vehicle, criminal negligent manslaughter and reckless driving. A witness said she was texting just before she hit the 30-year-old motorcyclist in March.

Maryland State Police said they issued about 1,600 citations in October, the first under the revised distracted driving law.

Del. James Malone, D-Baltimore County, driving force behind the toughening of Maryland’s cell phone law, says an effective cell phone deterrent should have been enacted before text messaging was banned. “I think we did it backwards. We should have gotten rid of the cell phones first,” Malone said after HB 753 cleared the House in late March.

The bill, sent to the governor on April 8 and then signed into law, was a rerun of previously unsuccessful legislation by Malone. “They can’t have (a cell phone) in their hand whatsoever,” Malone says.

Two other 2013 bills also sought to remove the secondary enforcement limitation on the state’s existing handheld cell phone law.

State Sen. Nancy King puts a spin on the enforcement issue. Her Senate Bill 193 of 2013 specifies primary enforcement if a child under the age of 8 is in the vehicle when the driver violates Maryland’s handheld cell phone law. King, D-Montgomery County, also sponsors a bill seeking to increase penalties for not safely securing a child in a vehicle.

The state made several technical adjustments to its existing distracted driving laws during the 2012 legislative session. They included a separation of cell phones and texting devices under the legal definition of a “wireless communication device.”

2012 distracted driving news & notes:
Del. Malone says of his House Bill 104: “I want (handheld cell phone use while driving) to be a primary offense, and I want it to be identical to the texting bill.” Didn’t happen. As in 2011, lawmakers rejected plans to upgrade enforcement of the handheld cell phone law to primary status.

2012 distracted driving legislation:
House Bill 55: Separates cell phones and texting devices in distracted driving law definitions. For text messaging violators under 18 years of age, possible punishment of 90-day license suspension and license restrictions. Approved by the House in a 121-14 vote Feb. 16. Approved by the Senate in a 39-7 vote of March 27. Latest action: Approved by the governor May 2. Same as SB 529, below. (Malone)

HB 104: Removes secondary enforcement status tag on Maryland distracted driving laws; specifies that bans on cell phones and other handheld electronic communications devices apply to use on “the travel portion of the roadway,” not just while in motion. Removes (lowered) fines of $40/$100 for these electronic distracted driving offenses and removes restriction on points against driver’s license for first-time offenders. Approved by the House in a 105-30 vote Feb. 24. Latest legislative action: Unfavorable report by Senate’s Judicial Proceedings panel March 30. Same as SB 217, below. (Malone, Kach)

HB 123: Would remove secondary enforcement status of laws regarding driving while using wireless communication devices. Withdrawn Feb. 13 after unfavorable report by Environmental Matters panel. (Clagett)

Senate Bill 217: Would assign primary enforcement status to existing laws regarding driving while using cell phones and other handheld communications devices. Would change requirement that vehicle must be “in motion” for offense to occur, to “in the travel portion of the roadway.” Removes (lowered) fines of $40/$100 for these electronic distracted driving offenses and removes prohibition on assigning points against license for first-time offenders. Unfavorable report of March 5 by Judicial Proceedings panel. (Robey, Conway, etc.)

SB 529: Separates cell phones and texting devices in definitions. For text messaging violators under 18 years of age, possible punishment of 90-day license suspension and license restrictions. Signed by governor May 2. Same as HB 55, see above. (Robey)

2011 distracted driving legislation:
SB 424: Updates current ban on text messaging to include prohibition against “reading” messages (as well as writing and sending). Removes current law’s language that allows texting while vehicle is stopped in traffic. Similar to HB 196. Approved by the Senate in a 35-11 vote on March 7. OK’d by the House in a 114-24 vote on March 31. Latest action: Signed into law by the governor on May 19. Goes into effect Oct. 1, 2011. (Brochin)

HB 196: Updates current ban on text messaging to close several loopholes: Includes prohibition against “reading” messages (as well as writing and sending); adds “electronic message” (email, IMs, etc.) to the texting ban; and changes the provision that an offender’s vehicle must be “in motion” to specify “in the travel portion of the roadway.” Approved by the Environment Matters committee on Feb. 27. Approved by the full House on March 3 in a 115-23 vote. Latest action: OK’d by the Senate in a 36-10 vote on March 31. (Malone)

HB 221: Specifies that current ban on teenage drivers’ use of wireless communications devices does not apply to use of device as a text messaging device (purpose unclear). Adds “electronic messages” to overall ban on texting. Approved by the House in a 122-13 vote taken March 21.Latest action: Received an “unfavorable report” from the Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee on April 7. (Malone)

HB 222: Removes secondary enforcement status tag to distracted driving legislation; specifies bans apply to “the travel portion of the roadway,” not just while in motion. Approved by the House in a 92-39 vote on March 10. Sent to the Senate, where it was rejected by the Judiciary Committee (“unfavorable report”) on April 1. (Malone)

HB 373: Would repeal secondary enforcement provisions of laws regarding driving while using wireless communication devices. Unfavorable Report by Environmental Matters Committee withdrawn. (Clagett)

Distracted driving notes (2011):
The loophole in Maryland’s texting law that allowed “reading” of messages while driving as well as texting while at stoplights has been closed. The revised distracted driving law took effect Oct. 1, 2011.

Delegate Michael Smigiel blasted the state’s texting and driving law during debate over the (successful) bill that closed two of its loopholes: “This is a nanny-state bill. This is an infringement on your liberties,” said Smigiel, R-Cecil.

Closing the texting law’s loopholes “just takes the guessing work away from police officers,” said SB 424 sponsor Sen. James Brochin, D-Baltimore County. The governor signed Brochin’s legislation on May 17, after it registered strong support in the legislature.

Talbot County Sheriff Dallas Pope said of HB 222’s rejection in the Senate: “Unfortunately, another year will pass with the chance of more lives being lost before we can address this once again. … They missed an opportunity to reduce the number of injuries and accidents caused by distracted drivers.” Pope is member of the Maryland Sheriffs Legislative Committee.

The Senate’s final approval of SB 424 came as a result of “one more year of legislators on the road and seeing someone who was not paying attention cause a near accident,” sponsor Sen. James Brochin said after the March 7 vote.

Just before the Senate gave initial approval to SB 424, Sen. Allan Kittleman attempted several amendments meant to make his point that distracted driving covers too many behaviors to legislate. One amendment sought to ban the reading of newspapers while driving, and the other proposed a ban on eating and drinking while driving. Those and other amendments were rejected before the emphatic March 3 vote in favor of closing the loophole in the state’s texting & driving law.

“This law goes to the core of the state invading the car,” Sen. E.J. Pipkin, R-Eastern Shore, said of SB 424. Another opponent, Sen. Edward Reilly, R-Anne Arundel County, said the bill gave police another tool with which to practice racial profiling.

Del. Jim Malone, D-Catonsville, is a longtime volunteer firefighter who often witnesses the effects of careless driving on bodies and property. He’s sponsoring three bills that would among other things make text messaging and use of handheld wireless devices a primary offense.

Distracted driving notes (pre-2011):
Maryland’s 2009 law outlawed the writing of text messages while driving, but not the reading of text messages. 2010 legislation that would close this loophole died on the last day of the session even though it was passed by the House and Senate. (It was revived for 2011).

Maryland’s law against text messaging and driving went into effect Oct. 1, 2009. Fines up to $500. Enforcement is “primary,” meaning police can pull over drivers for that reason alone. In the first year, police wrote more than 200 citations for texting.

Maryland retailers are enjoying a boom in hands-free devices for cell phones as the ban on using handheld mobile phones while driving has taken effect.

2010 legislation:
SB 321: Bans use of handheld cell phones while vehicle is in motion. Prohibits use of cell phones by school bus drivers and those with learner’s permits. Secondary enforcement. $40 fine (first offense), then $100. (Original bill’s fines were $100/$250). Known as the Delegate John Arnick Electronic Communications Traffic Safety Act. Approved by the Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 15 and then in amended form by the Maryland Senate (24-23 vote) on March 24. Sent to the House, where it won approval from the House Environmental Matters Committee on April 7. Approved by the House on April 9 (125-14 vote) and sent to Gov. Martin O’Malley, who signed it into law May 20. It goes into effect Oct. 1, 2010. (Stone)

HB 192: Prohibits reading of text messages while driving on Maryland’s roads and highways. Seeks to close loophole in 2009 texting law. Fine of up to $500. Approved by the House (135-2, March 11). The Senate voted for the bill on April 12 but sought to water down the texting law to apply only to vehicles that are in motion. This last-minute move put the bill back into play as the session ended. Dead for the year. (Malone)

HB 934: Would prohibit all drivers from use of handheld cell phones. Fine could be waived if driver shows proof of buying hands-free equipment. Also seeks to ban drivers over the age of 18 with learner’s permits or intermediate licenses from using all cell phones. Would prohibit cell phone use by school bus drivers. Primary enforcement. Fine $50 (first offense)/$100. No points on first offense unless an accident results. Calls for drivers-license test questions about wireless communications devices. (McIntosh)

SB 19: Similar to HB 934 (above). Primary enforcement. Voted down in the Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 15. (Lenett)

HB 385: Would outlaw a variety of wireless communications-related activities for drivers of motor vehicles, subway trains and light rail vehicles. Cites text messaging, web surfing, video games, video viewing. (Ali)

HB 299: A general distracted-driving bill that calls for secondary enforcement, meaning a violator cannot be pulled over for this reason alone. Appears identical to HB 236. (Malone)

SB 294: Same as HB 299 (above). Cross-filed. Rejected by the Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 15. (Glassman)

HB 190: Would outlaw video display screens that are visible to the driver. Allows for video equipment that is used as envisioned by the vehicle manufacturer. (Malone)

SB 322: Seeks to ban video display screens (such as TVs) that are visible to the driver. Same as HB 190 (above). Cross-filed. Approved by the Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 15. (Stone)

2010 legislation notes:
The successful handheld cell phone ban SB 321 was aliased as the Delegate John Arnick Electronic Communications Traffic Safety Act, in memory of the late lawmaker who started pushing for cell phone driving regulation back in 1999. His friend Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr., D-Dundalk, is the sponsor.

The parents of a Harford County girl whose death was blamed on a texting trucker attended the cell phone legislation signing and took home the pen used by the governor to enact it into law.

Jennifer Smith, founding director of the survivors group Focus Driven, attended a Senate panel session on distracted driving Feb. 17. She asked lawmakers if “anyone’s life (is) worth a few minutes on the phone?” She lost her mother to a cell phoning driver.

The 2010 session ended April 12 without closing the loophole in Maryland’s texting ban.

2009 legislation:
SB 98: Prohibits text messaging while driving on Maryland’s roads and highways. Given final approval by the full Senate and amended by the House to exempt reading of text messages. Sent to Gov. Martin O’Malley, who signed it April 7. Took effect Oct. 1.

HB 72: Would prohibit text messaging while driving. Approved by the House on a 133-2 vote and sent to the Senate on March 28, 2009. (See above)

SB 143: Prohibits drivers from using cell phones and other wireless communications devices with their hands. Would ban school bus drivers from using wireless devices. Would prohibit drivers with learner’s permits or intermediate licenses from using wireless devices. Appears dead in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, with an “unfavorable ruling” of March 10, 2009.

SB 103: Same as SB 143 but apparently limited to handheld cell phones. “Unfavorable ruling” from Judicial Committee on March 10, 2009.

HB 323: Would outlaw drivers’ use of wireless devices for texting. Given “unfavorable report” in the Environmental Matters Committee.

Legislation notes:
No mystery: Gov. Martin O’Malley had indicated that he’d sign legislation banning text messaging while driving when it emerges from the Maryland House of Delegates.

SB 98, the successful text-messaging bill, faced Republican resistance over its maximum $500 penalty, but an amendment that would have removed the fine was rejected in the Senate by a 16-31 vote. Also rejected was an attempt to require police to pull over drivers for another offense before citing for text messaging. The texting legislation received preliminary approval from the Senate on March 13 and then full Senate approval on March 17. The final Senate vote on the text-messaging bill was 43-4.

The sponsor is Sen. Norman Stone, D-Baltimore County. During the Senate debate, he said of text messaging and driving: “We’re trying to prevent accidents. We’re trying to prevent injuries. We’re trying to prevent deaths. There’s no question that this is a dangerous, dangerous practice.”

“This was the very least we could do to advance public safety,” said SB 98 co-sponsor Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Takoma Park, who also supports a ban on use of handheld cell phones while driving. “We didn’t get to the end zone, but we’ve moved the ball to the 50-yard line.”

SB 98, the texting legislation, is called the Delegate John Arnick Electronic Communications Traffic Safety Act. Arnick tried for eight years to get cell phone safety legislation through the Maryland General Assembly. He died in 2006.

Ragina Averella of AAA Mid-Atlantic on text messaging and driving: “Although there are numerous distractions facing motorists, this is an extreme distraction and one which poses increased safety risks by the very nature of the activity.”

Sen. Michael G. Lenett, D-Montgomery, sponsor of SB 143, says Gov. Martin O’Malley has vowed to sign the bill. “We are only fighting legislators at this point,” Lenett told the Baltimore Sun. Lenett’s has been backed by the Maryland State Police and the highway safety unit of the Maryland Department of Transportation. The bill appears dead for the 2009 session.

The Baltimore Sun has endorsed a ban on text messaging while driving.

Gov. Martin O’Malley has used his executive powers to ban use of handheld cell phones by Maryland state employees driving Maryland’s vehicles.

After a hearing in which legislators heard from a man whose daughter was killed in a texting-related crash, Sen. Brian E. Frosh, chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, said: “If we can’t get a strong cell phone bill, then maybe we can get a strong texting-while-driving prohibition.”

During the 2008 session, Sen. Lenett, who had been pushing for limits on drivers’ use of cell phones and texting devices, pushed SB 2 through the full Senate in March, the first time a hand-held proposal was approved by a legislative body in Maryland. It was killed March 27 in a close vote in the state’s House Environmental Matters Committee committee.

“No one has convinced me that cellphones are as dangerous as people say,” a delegate who voted against the handheld phone ban said. Another opponent said, “We’re lacking data.”

“Very disappointing (but) we made more progress this year with this legislation than has ever been made before,” said Lenett, who’ll be reviving the cell phone driving proposal for ’09.

SB 461, which would have made the cell phone limits on teens a primary offense, also was rejected in March 2008.

Maryland’s Legislature has been debating cell phone driving bills since 1999.

Comments

  1. Debbie Coons says:

    Not enough data?! Are you kidding me?! Look at ALL the drivers with their necks IMMOBILIZED due to holding a cell phone. How on earth can they be expected to give 100% attention to ANYTHING around them!! Driving while on a cell phone is asking for an accident to happen. We need intelligent representation for our families to become safe in Maryland!!

    To the representative who NEEDS her cell phone to call her daughter or 911, USE HANDSFREE if you MUST!!

  2. Laura Keene says:

    I sent a letter of concern back in 2008 to Govenor Martin O’Malley regarding cell phones and driving at the same time. The response given, I was not happy with. Now I am grateful that something is finally being done about this.

  3. Marilyn Johnson says:

    That is better for safety of driving. If any of you are driving and
    get some messages, best way to do is pull over off the
    highway to do texting. Remember not on soft shoulder of
    the highway, it can happens on shoulder and get car accident.
    On the safe side is to park at Rest Area Park or at gas
    station or any where out of highway and also out of way
    of the streets, too! Best way to obey the laws! Don’t get
    ticket if you can’t afford! BE WISE TO DO BY OBEY!

  4. Louis Parks says:

    we have a state where people fail to use turn signals, have no idea what a solid white line means, use improved shoulders as driving lanes, change lanes in turns at intersections, can not keep a car between the lane lines and cell phone use is still allowed. the whole state should be required to take a functional driving test every four years at their expense.

  5. Paul Witter says:

    This is over-legislated. We already have strong laws against driving dangerously. Some people can use a cell-phone, shaving and eat breakfast while driving – all at the same time – without being dangerous. Others can’t even change the station on the radio without getting into an accident. Also, how are the police going to know you were texting? As far as they know, you were searching for a contact to make a phone call.

    Bottom line is this – if you’re driving perfectly safely it shouldn’t matter what else you’re doing. If you’re driving like an idiot, you should get pulled over anyway. This is just another example of the “nanny state” thinking it knows what’s best for everyone.

  6. When I see someone texting in my neighborhood, i key their car.

  7. Dan Blair says:

    Last year an insurance group, I forget which one but I read about it in the newspaper, up North did a survey in States where cell phone ban was in effect and they were amazed that there was no decrease in the number of accidents. Maryland legislators who are anti-business and anti-farmer are killing the Maryland economy and jobs. We do not need you nanny state laws, we do not need you telling us how to live. We need you to get out of our lives, and get businesses moving into Maryland. We will see you come election.

  8. Kathryn N Mahlin says:

    I VOTED FOR MARTIN O MALLY
    IT,S GRAATE HE PASSED THE NOT TEXING AND KNOT USEING THE CELL FHONE WHEN THE CAR IS IN MOSHION

  9. Tony Seitz says:

    Cel-phone drivers show a wanton disregard for the rights and safety of others. They are potential killers who don’t care. The law allows me to defend myself if I feel my life is in danger. I intend to.

  10. The only problem with this law is that when you use a bluetooth device your attention is still focused on the conversation and not driving. This law doesnt fix anything, it only helps the state get money from ticketing people.

  11. I don’t get it. Why ban cell phone use when you don’t ban the use of GPS devices and in newer carrs they have a screen you can look at and talk to while driving and trying to find your way.

    How about screaming kids in the back that my need attention, how about holding convesations with passengers in your car ,what about radios and listining to music., and pets in the car.

    What about eating and drinking in the car while driving. Taking a drink of your beverage while driving will block your vision while you are drinking your morning coffee or orange juice.

    Sneezing causes you to close your eyes. How about blowing your nose or itching your eyes while driving.

    How about taking your eyes off the road while rubber necking at police action on the side of the road.

    The cell phone law is stupid, especially when there are 1000’s of distractions that are allowed without the police stopping you and giving you a state income producing citation that carries no points.

  12. Daniel O'Neal Vona says:

    These kinds of laws are completely illogical and a waste of time. There only purpose is to harass busy law-abiding citizens for the purpose of raising revenue.

    Nobody who can reason their way out of a paper bag can tell me with a straight face that using a hand held cell phone is any more or less distracting than eating while driving, changing radio stations, talking to a passenger, or children in the back seat, changing compact discs, operating and ipod connected to a radio, watching a dvd, or talking on a cell phone through a blue tooth radio receiver, or talking on a CB radio. All of these listed item are completely legal and some are far more distracting than talking on a phone.

    I think passing laws like this is a waste of time.

  13. Steve Johnson says:

    Finally a bill that will hopefully stop the nuts from talking on a cell phone. I was already in one accident cause by a idiot young girl talking on a phone. This should be a ‘primary’ offense. So if you are one of the idiots that talk on a cell phone while driving, STOP IT!!!

  14. Steve Johnson says:

    ■Daniel O’Neal Vona on September 21st, 2010 6:24 pm
    These kinds of laws are completely illogical and a waste of time. There only purpose is to harass busy law-abiding citizens for the purpose of raising revenue.
    ———————–
    Dan, what are you talking about. This is a good law that will save lives. Stop being a fool and get off your cell phone or I will turn you in.

  15. Canu Hearmenow says:

    Another Big Brother law or Common Sense law pushed on us by insurance companies. This will surely help with the back log of our judicial system. I am all for getting off the phone and driving.

    Texting ,reading and dialing are distractions while driving.

    But holding a phone and talking??? what about CB radios?? What next??? No more drive thru drinks?? Can’t have your arm out the window??No more stick shift cars or trucks?? How about other distractions?? GPS….satellite radio….OnStar….
    CD players ..,Talking to the person in your car???

    H3ll I havn’t seen an officer of the law that was NOT talking on the phone while passing me at 80MPH or sitting at a light.

  16. Why is it you cell phone guys have to be in the fastlane going slow causing a traffic build up behind you. I don’t think anyone can deny that they haven’t seen someone driving like a dumbass while they were chatting away. I’m all for this law.

  17. Warren Hartman says:

    As you can see I am a ham radio operator. When I was in the army i was stationed in NJ for about a year. I had a radio in my car and the MP’s on post told me that NJ had a law that you must drive with both hands on the wheel. I under stand that there is a stiff fine if you are stoped for that infraction. I beleave that Cell Phones are not the only destraction. I see people reading a book paper, doing eyelashes, Some people seem to have both hands some where but the wheel.
    Thanks Warren

  18. This law is very disappointing. By making this a “secondary enforcement ” which means the police must pull you over for another offense and then can ticket you for being on the phone. Not everyone knows what a secondary enforcement is. I guess that’s why it really isn’t explained in the new law. The law seems to be a scare tactic for peaple to drive hands free. This law should have been a “primary enforcement.” I guess this means a thousand or more people will be killed again this year.

  19. Tim Crutchfield says:

    Well I finally see that with this new law that the government has finally out regulated itself. Has anybody realized that with this law in effect that they have banned police officers from using their laptop computers or their radios and other emergency services while operating their vehicles. Way to go Maryland should have know you would be first. And I am a truck driver so yes I see on a daily basis how people can be very distracted while using their phones so I do agree with the law but couldn’t dismiss the irony in it

  20. For the everyone that named so many things that block your vision or impair your hearing, We get a law that corrects one thing to make you me and our children safer is a big step. I you would like to eat, drink, talk, listen to the radio. Take Public Transportation and let the rest of us LIVE.

  21. The distracted driving laws which includes cell phone usage and texting. What about eating while driving, putting on make up, read a book, a newspaper, or shaving. There aren’t any laws about these things that can distract you while driving yet I see them everyday.

  22. Enacting the laws and getting people to obey them are two very different things…especially when you see police officers drive pasted you on their personal cell phones. Just saying.

    Distracted driving is a big problem. This only touches one area of distraction. What about eating in the car, or putting on make up, or your whining, screaming kids behind you- BIG distraction. Can we ban that one please!

  23. kschlosser says:

    you people are stupid and obviously bad drivers. if you cannot handle going the speed limit, not 10 under, then you dont deserve to be on the road. this nanny state crap has to end. enough is enough.

    open your eyes!!! how about you fix pg county, get the drug problems out, fix the roads in the wheaton area and on the beltway. there are better things to spend your time on that making this state a terrible place to live. whats next, no more food while driving? or wait maybe you could come up with something more stupid than that. how about you have to have flashing lights to drive in the rain? or you must wear a sweater while driving while its under 50 degrees because people are distracted when they are cold and are turning the heat on…..its all crap. crap crap crap crap crap. this needs to go on dumblaws.com

  24. Mike Gambene says:

    A person talking on a cell phone holding it up to there ear or hands free while driving is not 100% there mentally to drive a car or truck safely. Your reaction time using the car brakes and changing lanes are slower when talking on a cell phone hands free or holding the phone up to your ear period. When I went to get my drivers license at 16 years old which was in the 1980’s, and they told us when driving keep the radio down, keep the passenger talk to a minimal and keep two hand’s on the wheel at all time’s. I would love to know what they are teaching are 16 year old children today when you go to get your driver’s license? All are teen’s that are driving in Montgomery County are looking at the adult’s driving with a cell phone up to there ear with one hand and holding the steering wheel with the other. And then that adult on the cell phone needs to make a right turn? Okay so let’s have no hands on the wheel and turn your turn signal on or we could just not turn on the turn signal at all and just make the turn. LOL
    The other day I was on my way home on 270 and there was a police car about 50 feet infront of me. He had a cell phone up to his ear and the police man crossed over three lanes real fast with know turn signal on to make an exit he almost missed wih the cell phone still up to his ear? Let’s see, maybe the police man almost missed his cut off ramp because he was on the cell phone and made that illegal lane changes big time. I have been riding a motorcycle for 30 years. So you know my feelings on cell phone usage. At least one close call happens everyday to me when riding in Montgomery County. I could go on and on and on but I feel discusted so I will stop now.

  25. Considering that I was followed yesterday by a police officer who I witnessed, at a stoplight, on his laptop, who then proceeded to change lanes on a solid white line, without turning on his blinker, and then sped off without his lights on, the rule isn’t stopping them. They need to set a good example for the rest of us.

  26. Lokinder verma says:

    Absolutely ban use of all cellphones while driving. This is now a global menace.no method of talking is better than either, it is just getting nasty every day, more traffic more cars more day to day stresses. Just make the things more simple in life to be more happy and safe.

  27. I was hit while walking IN A CROSSWALK while the WALK sign was on because someone’s phone conversation was more important than my safety. Look people driving is a privilege, not a right. You are operating an at least 1000 pound piece of steel, your tweets and posts can wait until the next red light! You may be fine driving while texting and/or talking, but thats under optimal conditions, one day you might be doing it and something atypical will happen and there is no way you aren’t at least a bit distracted talking/texting!

  28. Judy Hasselberger says:

    Drivers are still using hand held phones and driving irradically.

  29. Drivers continue to flagrantly disregard the handsfree and no texting laws — and drive erratically and without concern for others on the road. I can spot a texter a mile away — how come the cops can’t seem to? I’d **really** like a phone number or website where I could “report” cases of abuse! If enough reports of abuse are received for an individual (or licence plate) there should be a fine or penalty. Why wait until they have an accident? Cops need to CRACK DOWN!

    • Thanks for the comment, Jilly. I’ve seen numerous requests for a phone-in tipster line, similar to how Californians can report vehicles in violation of smog laws. No matter which side of the distracted driving debate you come down on, law enforcement’s claims that they cannot spot a texting driver are laughable.

  30. Rocco Gambene says:

    When I am on the road in Maryland I would say 90% of drivers have the cell phone in there hand up to there ear driving. When the scondary law came into affect, which is a joke in it self, It did get better for about a week and then when people found out you can not get pulled over for use a hand held phone, I see almost everybody backed to doing it. Texting is bad, but I am way past that. You should not be able to use a phone period when you are driving. I am a motorcycle rider so this is a very serious subject for me.

  31. Louise Schafer says:

    Every day I see way too many drivers talking on their cell phones. You can see that they are distracted and not paying attention to driving. Please pass the 104 legislation.

  32. I understand everyone about the texting and no cell phone use while driving, but if you are going to say being on your cell phone is bad then you have to say drinking a coke, eating, changing the radio station, having one hand out the window, singing, smoking, ANYTHING other then having both hands on the wheel at all time should be put in a law. Even when police use their walkie talkies should be concidered a violation.

  33. Krystal, my point exactly. I agree with u wholeheartedly. That was kind of my point too.

  34. Krystal is right. I teach defensive driving classes. My company’s policy is simple: no talking or texting while driving. With or without a headset or hands free device. Its not that sending a text is bad, its the fact that it pulls your attention away from the road and the 2 ton machine you have going at 35mph or more. Its not that talking is bad, but the act of holding the phone to your ear, driving with one hand, and holding a conversation causes you to lose focus.

    But those aren’t the only issues out there. Your Fast Food Value Meal spread out across the dash board, shaving, putting on make-up, getting dressed, reading the news paper or a novel are all issues as well. And yes, police officers who violate the law while on duty need to be held accountable as well.

    Driving is a privilege. That’s why its regulated and has laws to enforce safety.

  35. Rocco Gambene says:

    It’s not about holding the cell phone in your hand, it’s about your mental state when on the cell phone. Your reaction time is a lot slower to use the brakes or steer in a different direction. I ride a motorcycle so I really see how bad it is compared to driving in a car. I feel like everybody driving around me has 3 beers in them. … What are we going to do to stop these cell phone usage in Maryland. Who is willing to take the time to get involved? I am so let me here from people that are ready to protest this and take the time to do it.

  36. Al Cinamon says:

    Sorry, Jim, but Krystal is not right. What she doesn’t realize is that the brain handles different functions. Driving is considered a cognitive function. Having your hand leaning on the door is not. It’s only when two cognitive functions compete for attention do we have a problem.

    Multi-tasking is a myth. The brain cannot and does not multi-task. What it does is switch from one task to another very quickly. But at any particular moment it is dealing with only one task. Therefore, while a person is talking on the phone no attention is being paid to the driving environment. That’s why you read about drivers going through red lights while talking on the phone. They never really “saw” the light. It’s been given a name, “inattention blindness.” They might be looking ahead but they don’t really see a lot of things.

  37. Crystal Garcia says:

    I see more police on their phones than anyone else so shouldn’t they be leading by example? The cell phone bill is the dumbest law — if they are banning cell phone usage, they should also ban radio usage, smoking cigarettes, eating while driving, and having kids in the car while driving.

  38. Dear, dear Crystal. I refer you to my post above (Sep 8) regarding cognitive functions. Then you might realize that your statement is one of the “dumbest” on this forum. I often wonder what people like you would say if you were face to face with a victim who was mangled because someone was talking on the phone while driving.

  39. Al Cinamon says:

    Finally, a State that recognizes that killing with a car is a criminal offense … not an “accident.” I have been clamoring for this for a long time and it always seem to fall on deaf ears. Now I will wait to see if it is actually enforced.

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