Jake's Law would create tougher penalties for cell phone distracted driving

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - If you aren't clicking the hang up button before getting in the driver's seat, it could soon cost you. A proposed law creates tougher penalties for crashes resulting in serious injury or death because of cell phone distractions.

"People need to know that there is not a single call or text that is more important that someone else's life," said Susan Yum, mother of the boy whom the law is named after.

Her 5-year-old son, Jake Owen, was killed two years ago after a distracted driver ran into the back of their family's car. Now, Yum is doing all she can to keep this from happening to someone else.

"We don't want another family to go through this. And so we keep plugging away at this because we realize that no one else should lose a son or daughter or father or mother because somebody decided that their phone call or text was more important than the safety of everybody else around them," she said.

Jake's Law would make any crash resulting in a serious injury or death because of cell phone distracted driving a misdemeanor, with up to three years in jail and $5,000 in fines. That's a hefty penalty compared to what drivers currently see: a traffic violation.

"That...it's not just tragic, it's absolutely a criminal act that needs to be penalized as such," said Del. Luke Clippinger, who introduced the bill Wednesday.

The bill would cover handheld cell phone use behind the wheel.

For Jake's family, it's a step in the right direction. "For anyone who says it's just a quick second, that quick second can mean life or death for somebody else," Yum said.

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