New Bill Aims To Ban Cell Phone Use On The Road

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Driving and talking on your cell phone could soon get you into bigger trouble in Maryland.

Weijia Jiang has more on efforts to toughen up the laws.

For many drivers, the debate over cell phones can stir up emotions.

“You don’t need to be holding the phone. It takes concentration away from the road,” said Naomi Adjei.

And even though it’s illegal in Maryland–there’s a loophole.

“You have to be doing something else before a police officer can pull you over,” said State Delegate Jimmy Malone.

Something else, like speeding or running a red light.

But an officer can’t pull someone over just for using a handheld phone because it’s only considered a secondary offense.

State Delegate Jimmy Malone is pushing to pass a bill that would change that.

“I want it to be a primary offense and I want it to be identical to the texting bill,” Malone said.

That law gives police the power to stop drivers if they spot texting behind the wheel–no other violations necessary.

“Extending that to holding phones will most likely make motorists obey the law and increase the enforcability of the current statute,” said Christine Delise of AAA Mid-Atlantic.

But critics of distracted driving legislation say it’s a slippery slope, and there are plenty of other distractions on the road that are legal.

“If a person is talking on the phone and is paying attention, isn’t doing anything flagrant while driving, it should be okay,” said Steph Ritter.

Still, most drivers echo Gina Linebarger, who says there’s no reason to hold on.

“You’re going to plow into somebody. It’s not worth killing yourself or someone else,” Linebarger said.

The House will vote on the bill next week. Last year, it made it through, but got stuck in the Senate.

Right now, nine states and Washington D.C. enforce the law as a primary offense.

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