[FoRK] Laws that ban texting while driving couldbecounterproductive

Bill Kearney wkearney99 at hotmail.com
Sun Oct 2 12:42:48 PDT 2011


Maryland's now made it a primary offense:

New Texting Law Takes Effect; Ban On Texting And Driving Stronger With New 

Governor Announces Maryland Reaches Record Low Traffic Fatalities

New Law Sends Drivers Message – Put the Phone Down

(September 30, 2011) – Governor Martin O’Malley today announced Maryland 
reached a record low number of victims killed in traffic collisions in 
2010 – 496 fatalities. The previous low was in 2009 with 550 people lost, a 
nine percent decrease.

“The efforts of law enforcement, educational outreach and better engineering 
to reduce fatalities on our roads have achieved positive results,” said 
Governor O’Malley. “But for those who lost loved ones in traffic crashes 
last year, 496 victims are still far too many. Our new law strengthening the 
texting while driving ban is another step toward continuing to reduce 
traffic deaths.”

Beginning October 1st, if you are thinking of picking up your phone and 
reading emails at a red light, don’t. The prohibition of texting and driving 
became law two years ago, but did not exclude reading texts. That loophole 
is now closed. Maryland’s Texting While Driving Law takes effect on October 
1, 2011 and prohibits all drivers in Maryland from using an electronic 
device to write, send, or read a text message while operating a motor 
vehicle in the travel lanes of the roadway. The law does not apply to 
texting 9-1-1 or using a global positioning system.

“We have seen dramatic declines in traffic fatalities in Maryland in recent 
years and we want that trend to continue,” Maryland State Police 
Superintendent Colonel Marcus L. Brown said. “That is why police officers 
across Maryland are working hard with state and local agencies to inform and 
educate our citizens about the dangers of texting and cell phone use while 
driving. We know these activities can be major distractions to drivers and 
can have deadly consequences.”

The texting law is a primary enforcement law and the activity is a 
misdemeanor crime. A first offense carries a fine of $70 and a second 
offense fine is $110. According to the US Department of Transportation, an 
estimated 800,000 vehicles nationally were driven by someone who used a 
hand-held cell phone during their drive last year.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that 67 percent of drivers 
admitted to talking on their cell phones within the last 30 days, and 21 
percent of drivers indicated they had read or sent a text or e-mail message. 
That figure rose to 40 percent for drivers under the age of 35.

The first texting while driving law took effect October 1, 2009 and the 
hands-free cell phone bill became law one year later. From the time each law 
took effect, police officers from 76 Maryland police departments who use the 
State Police Electronic Traffic Information Exchange system have issued 587 
warnings and 379 traffic citations for driving while texting. Police have 
issued 4,021 warnings and 5,227 citations for failure to use a hands-free 
cell phone while driving. Included in those numbers are 325 warnings and 240 
citations for texting and 1,859 warnings and 2,905 traffic citations for 
cell phone use issued by the Maryland State Police. 

More information about the FoRK mailing list