|Thursday, March 10, 2011 – Robert Lang|
|By a vote of 91-40, the Maryland House of delegates approved an expansion of the state’s ban on using a handheld phone while driving.Since the law took effect in October, motorists could only be fined up to $100 if a police officer cites a driver for another offense besides using a phone.
Under the bill approved today, using a handheld phone while driving becomes a primary offense, meaning police officers could pull drivers over they see talking on the phone while driving.
The bill also bars motorists from using phones while stopped at a traffic light or stop sign and raises the fine to up to $500.
During debate, Upper Eastern Shore Republican Mike Smigel held up his laptop noting people can legally use that while driving. The he held up his cell phone and said drivers cannot use the smaller device.
“That doesn’t make sense,” Smigel told his colleagues.
Supporters say the bill will help reduce accidents.
Baltimore County Delegate Jimmy Malone sponsored the bill. He says a driver can become distracted while talking on a cell phone while their vehicle is stopped in traffic and that impedes traffic.
Malone also notes that the bill is consisted with expansion of the state’s texting while driving ban.
The House has already approved a bill barring people from reading texts and using a texting device while the vehicle is stopped in traffic.
The bill approved today now goes to the State Senate.
… Like we didn’t know this was coming. …