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Distracted Driving Tickets Skyrocket In Md.

FREDERICK, Md. (WJZ) — Marylanders are getting nailed for distracted driving at an alarming rate. Across the state, police are catching more drivers on the phone behind the wheel.

Christie Ileto has more on the dominant trend.

Distracted driving reaches a new level of danger. New numbers show, since October, state police have issued 6,800 electronic tickets for distracted driving. For all of 2013, 5,000 e-tickets were issued.

“No, it doesn’t surprise me at all. Every time something annoying happens on the road, if you look at the other driver, they’re on the phone,” said driver Jennie Burke.

Like when a distracted driver plowed into a family car, killing five-year-old Jake Owen in 2011.

“When people are driving, they’re not paying attention to their driving, they’re paying more attention to their phones,” said Sgt. Marc Black, Maryland State Police.

The governor recently signed Jake’s Law, stiffening penalties for drivers who cause serious crashes while talking or texting on a handheld phone.

Before October 2013, driving while talking on a handheld device was a secondary offense, meaning a police officer couldn’t pull a driver over for that reason alone.

“I think now that it’s a primary offense, we have a better opportunity to stop people,” said Black.

Just last month, state police issued 1,600 e-tickets statewide to distracted drivers. Baltimore County totaled 135 tickets–the highest for the metro area.

“I’m frustrated because they don’t even realize half the time that they’re doing it because they’re so engrossed in the conversations,” said Dr. Cheryl Adams, driver.

And for drivers who play by the rules, they say the only way to survive the drive is to drive defensively.

Police say it’s not just teens driving distracted, but all age groups.

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