Mobile phone law hits one-year mark
Maryland passed a law last year making it not only illegal to use your cell phone while driving, but also made it a primary offense a few months later. One year later, Joe Herring, deputy chief of police said that the rule is still enforced heavily in the Towson area and around campus.
When the law was first passed last spring, it was a secondary offense, meaning to pull you over for using your cell phone, you also had to be breaking another traffic violation.
Legislators also closed loopholes in the bill, making it illegal not only to send text messages, but also to read them.
“They do not at this point collect the data for the number of citations given for cell phone use behind the wheel,” Maryland Department of Police Spokesperson Elena Russo said, yet some students said they don’t understand enforcement of the law.
Freshman Brennan Orsulak said the rule is hard to enforce, and he doesn’t text or call while driving, because he knows using his phone makes it harder to drive safely.
“It has nothing to do with the law,” he said. “Usually texting isn’t on my mind when I’m driving.”
Freshman Danielle Nguyen has changed the way she acts while driving because of the law.
“I’m pretty scared of that law,” she said. “I don’t want that on my record.”
In Maryland, if caught while texting and driving, there is a $70 fine and a point put on your driver’s license.
If it is determined the texting caused an accident, the fine increases to $110 and there will be three points added to your license, according to television station WUSA.
Drivers who were texting were 23 times more likely to get into a car crash, or almost get into a car crash than their counterparts who aren’t distracted while driving, according to a study done by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
The same study also concluded that sending or receiving texts averts the driver’s eyes away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which is equal to driving the length of a football field at 55 mph.
While it may not be obvious, the police are concerned with cell phone use behind the wheel just as much as drunk and aggressive driving, Russo said.
“Our officers are striving to continue to make our highways a safe place for all motorists,” she said.