BALTIMORE (WJZ)– There are tough new rules for cell phones on the roads. Starting Saturday morning, Maryland drivers could get pulled over just for sending or reading a text message.
Andrea Fujii explains why texters are now more likely to get nailed.
About 496 people died on Maryland roads last year, a record low. Now, traffic officials hope this tougher law will make the roads even safer.
Come Saturday, next time you hear a beep, don’t be tempted to read that text and drive.
“I think we’re all guilty of doing it,” said one person.
Starting Oct. 1, it will be illegal for Maryland drivers to read messages or emails while driving. Tickets will be $70 for the first offense and $100 for the second.
“Even if you’re stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic, it is now illegal to read a text message, as well,” said AAA spokeswoman Ragina Averella.
And it will now be a primary offense, which means police don’t need another reason to pull you over.
The law closes the loophole from the previous texting ban enacted one year ago that prohibited sending messages.
So far, 966 warnings and citations have been issued for the current no-texting ban.
Since last year, drivers are also required to use a hands-free phone but WJZ found many drivers breaking the law.
So far, 9,248 have been ticketed for not using a hands-free device. Some people think the new texting ban is a more simple, all-encompassing law that they hope works.
“So it’s hands-free, period, no questions asked,” one driver said. “And I’ve been on that train for awhile because I think it’s a safer way to drive.”
“It should work if they follow the rules, but the fact is, they’re not going to follow the rules,” said another.
These laws don’t apply to texting 911 or using a GPS.
Currently, not using a hands-free cell phone is a secondary offense, but some lawmakers continue to push for it to become a primary offense.