BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As state lawmakers approve a bill that bans reading texts while driving, new numbers released by the federal government show teens are still distracted behind the wheel.

As Gigi Barnett reports, there’s a new national effort to cut the crashes down.

A new report released by the U.S. Department of Transportation calls distracted driving a deadly epidemic, especially among teens.

The report shows 63 percent of drivers under the age of 30 admit to using a handheld phone behind the wheel, and 30 percent say they’ve sent text messages while driving.

“I completely agree with this, ’cause I’ve had several friends who have been in car accidents,” said driver Mary Hanemayer.

Now, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is launching a national campaign using the department’s website and radio and television commercials to reach teens.

This comes days after state lawmakers approved a bill that would put more teeth into Maryland’s distracted driver laws, closing a loophole in a law passed two years ago that only banned writing texts while driving. Now reading them would be illegal, too.

“They’re righting a wrong ,” said Ragina Averella, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “We just feel that it’s a natural inclusion. Receiving, reading, writing a text message–it’s all a transaction. Someone’s not sending one and not expecting a response. We’re happy to see that the legislatures are getting it right.”

But the bill does allow checking a GPS application on a smart phone.

Under the current law, drivers caught texting while behind the wheel could face a $500 fine.

Comments (13)
  1. Bob says:

    Im so sick of lawmakers forcing stupid laws down our throats. Here is a solution. There is already a law on the books called neglegent driving! How about we enforce that lawfor those that can’t do two things at once and leave the rest of us that can alone.

  2. sterling cooper says:

    bob your a idiiot hope u dont have to bury anyone because of another idiot who is texting

  3. Josef says:

    Why is this news? No one has curtailed their cellphone or texting use while driving – just look around next time on the road. The current laws aren’t enforced why would this one? I seriously doubt a single ticket has been issued. I never see any stats on traffic tickets issued by county or agency- why not?

    1. AT says:

      Not enforced because you have to be doing something else wrong for them to nail you for this. They can’t pull you over for texting or talking on the phone unless you’re speeding or something.

  4. Mystick says:

    Its not just teens… it’s everybody. Seems like every time I see a police officer driving by, especially MSP, they are on the phone. A few weeks ago I had to honk the horn to get one to move on a green light because he wasn’t paying attention while messing around on the phone.

    1. SMH says:

      Unfortunately, Police are exempt from this law. The law is for hand held devices, which include a radio. If they were not exempt from this law then they would not be able tot alk ont heir radio while driving. However, I have seen many police officers ont he phone while driving. Wonder who they are talking to?????

  5. Bob says:

    I’m an idiot? Its totally idiotic to have to make and try to enforce new laws when there are perfectly good laws already on the books. Its called reckless or neglegent driving. Do we need a law that says you cant read a map, or shave, or put on make-up, or eat? NO! We simply need to enforce the laws we already have.

  6. pasfd says:

    Agreed Bob. & Mystick your absolutely right. I see police on their phones all the time & I also see people of all ages on their phones not just teens.

  7. AT says:

    Ban bleach, that’s harmful too.

    But I guess we have to spend the budget on something…

  8. Sarah says:

    They need to ban the use of handheld phone PERIOD, there’s no law saying you can’t send an email from a smart phone. I don’t know how the law is written, but if they only mention text messages in there not emails then that’s just another loophole.

  9. Brad says:

    Well it’s not just teens! Coming down the ramps from 95 to MLK Blvd the other night I watched an idot, in the drivers seat, on his laptop, in his lap! How are adults supposed to lead by examle if they don’t have any good sense themselves???

  10. Bernard Mc Kernan says:

    I lived & got by very nicely without a cellphone for years & ran a successful business. I enjoyed the quiet time in my car alone or listening to the radio or tapes.
    All cell phones have done is create a voice mail box in which you never get to talk to a live voice only a manufactured one. Oh & with all the new technology are we really any better off & do we accomplish anymore productivity? I think not, it’s all about social B.S.

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