Using hand-held devices while driving to become primary offense
4:48 PM, Apr 9, 2013
6:12 AM, Apr 10, 2013
They are two of the pleasures of life---driving a car and talking on a cell phone, and some Marylanders are convinced you can do both at the same time.
"What? Talk and drive? Yes. You can," said William Winder of Essex, "Some people will be driving and singing. Listen to the radio and singing or having a conversation with the person next to them."
But a measure awaiting the governor's signature would make hand-held cell phone conversations while driving reason enough for police to pull you over and give you a ticket.
The bill is a get tough approach towards a practice that's already illegal in the state, and one that Sgt. Marc Black of the Maryland State Police says his agency supports.
"The command staff will focus and they will take the necessary steps in order to enforce this law," said Sgt. Black.
The measure allows a handful of exceptions to using the handheld device including making 911 calls, using its GPS function and making a quick call while you're stopped at a red light, which was something AAA Mid-Atlantic had opposed.
"We still believe that it will be a distraction," said Christine Delise of AAA Mid-Atlantic, "Also, what do motorists do when the light turns green? Do they still continue talking on that cell phone?"
One of AAA's recent surveys also found more people feared distracted drivers than those who are drunk or aggressive.
It's a message not lost upon some of the motorists we spoke.
"Driving along 95 I see probably half the people are either texting, doing something with their handheld device," said Beverley Brown of North Baltimore, "I don't know if the blue tooth will help, but it certainly will keep their eyes on the road."
"You don't try to use a cell phone and drive at the same time?" we asked Inez Carter of East Baltimore.
"I don't drive and don't want to the way these crazy people are out here," she replied, "For real."
Under the measure, you would still be able to use your blue tooth or handless speaker phone.
As we mentioned, tickets for handheld talking and driving start at $75 and jump to $125 for a second offense and $175 for a third.