It's illegal to use a hand-held phone while driving in Maryland, but because it's not a primary offense, police can only penalize you if they pull you over for something else first. That would all change if MD Delegate James Malone, (D-District 12-A) gets his way. Malone wants to make driving with a hand-held phone a primary offense.
"I would support that," Corinne Thornton says. " All phone conversations behind the wheel should be completely hands- free."
Malone's bill has the support of at least six other legislators, including House Speaker Michael Busch (D-District 30).
It's all about ending distracted driving. State Highway Officials say drivers using hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into a crash than those driving hands-free Denise Watts doesn't take the chance.
"I will pull over, take out my phone to make a call or check email," Watts says. " Using a phone while driving is dangerous."
The head of the Motor Vehicle Administration says 1.2 million crashes each year involve drivers using cellphones. In Maryland, 3,331 drivers died in crashes involving inattentive drivers in 2011. "I have a button that I can push to answer the phone," Thomas Sietsema says. "The only time I ever use my phone is for GPS."
With all the hands-free technology around these days, Sietsema says there's almost no excuse for not complying, whether it's a primary offense or not.
"It's so affordable at this point,"he says.
Delegate Malone says under his bill, first time offenders could have their citations wiped out if they can prove to the court that they've purchased a hands-free device.
A vote on the measure hasn't been set yet.
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