Bill Prohibits Reading Text Messages While Driving

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland lawmakers are taking another hard look at distracted driving.  One bill proposed would make using a handheld cell phone while on the road a primary offense and, as political reporter Pat Warren explains, more restrictions on texting could go on the books.

There’s a move in the General Assembly to take more control of what you do with your wireless device while you’re behind the wheel.  Under a bill proposed in the House of Delegates, reading a text message while on the road goes on the list of wireless no-nos. 

“I usually text while I drive,” said one driver.

“It’s probably not a good idea,” said another.

Christine Armiger has seen tragedy caused by a driver’s use of a wireless device.

“My best friend…passed away less than a month ago.  She was texting and driving and ran into a tree and passed away,” Armiger said.

State Police told the House Economic Matters Committee Tuesday that reading is as great a hazard as writing a text.

“A person reading a text message is emotionally involved and it impairs driving ability,” one said.

Some lawmakers also question how officers can make the determination that a person is actually reading a text.  It’s a question that could derail the idea, but not strong enough to change one young woman’s mind.

“At the same time, reading is distracting,” she said.  “Stay focused and drive.”

Cell phone and texting bills have made the rounds in Annapolis over the past several years and aren’t likely to go away until they’re passed.

The restriction would not apply if a driver pulls over on the side of the road, but it prohibits reading at stop signs and traffic lights.

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