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Put It Down: Delegate Wants To Put The Brakes On Cell Phone Use In The Car

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — In Annapolis, there’s a new push to restrict what drivers can and can’t do with their cell phones behind the wheel. If a delegate from Baltimore County has his way, a simple phone call will be enough to get you pulled over.

Kai Jackson has more on the proposal.

Maryland has really cracked down on distracted driving, especially cell phone use. But a state lawmaker wants to do more.

Keeping drivers focused on driving has not been an easy task. The radio, passengers, eating and mobile phones all compete for the driver’s attention. Using phones behind the wheel at times has proven deadly.

“There definitely have been a lot of deaths across the country just from cell phone use in general,” said Cabel Alfriend.

Now Baltimore County Delegate James Malone wants to put the brakes on mobile phone use behind the wheel, beyond what already exists.

“In my opinion, we did it bass-ackwards. We should have gotten rid of the cell phones first and then did the texting,” Malone said.

Malone wants to make just using a mobile phone behind the wheel a primary offense. Right now, it’s a secondary offense, meaning you’d have to be speeding, for example, for a cop to pull you over and cite you for both.

“If they can’t have it in their hand whatsoever, hopefully they’ll adhere to the law,” Malone said.

Allowing police to stop motorists for simply having a mobile phone in their hands while behind the wheel would seem like a good idea to many, though some say there needs to be a balance.

“Sometimes you need to talk on the phone when you’re driving,” Alfriend said.

Texting and driving is already a primary offense and Malone believes having a mobile phone in the hand should also be a primary offense. Similar measures have failed in the past.

“I feel confident once the bill gets to the floor of the Senate, hopefully it will pass,” Malone said.

In a 2009 study, Harvard researchers estimated 2,600 people die each year from mobile phone-related crashes.

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