Reporting Alex DeMetrick
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)– A new law is trying to catch up to technology and the danger it poses on the road. In Maryland, it’s now illegal to text while driving.
Alex DeMetrick reports police are now starting to enforce it.
It’s day one for Anne Arundel County police in half a dozen marked and unmarked units. The target:
“Trying to find someone either texting or on their cell phone,” Cpl. Nick DiPietro of the Anne Arundel County Police Department said.
It’s something a lot of us do, and probably all of us have seen.
“It’s kids, teens, adults, anybody. Everybody does it. It’s unfortunate,” Jeff Dibler of Edgewater said.
“There’s one right there. Find a good safe place to stop him,” DiPietro pointed out while on patrol.
It’s an overall effort to crack down on all sorts of distracted driving, but especially texting behind the wheel– now a primary offense in Maryland.
“You cannot be on your phone at any time, whether you’re stopped at a red light or actually physically driving,” DiPietro said.
“It’s very dangerous, in particular because people are taking their eyes off the road for longer periods of time,” Justin Mulcahy, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Police Department, said.
To enforce the new law, police are learning as they go. It’s not like running radar for speeders.
“What I like to do is pull up to the lights and look down into the vehicles,” DiPietro explained.
It doesn’t take much looking.
“She’s texting right now,” DiPietro noticed on patrol.
It turned out to be a long light.
“Still doing it,” DiPietro said.
The fine for texting while driving is $80 and one point on your driving record, but punishment is not the focus for police.
“I’ve issued some citations and a lot of warnings,” DiPietro said. “It really depends on the driver and the record and what they did. The goal today is to educate.”
One stop at a time.
A crackdown on texting while driving is evolving into statewide enforcement. In Anne Arundel County, it will be a focus during the next four months.