By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The Maryland House of Delegates gives the go-ahead to a bill that raises fines for texting while driving to up to $500.

Getting drivers to keep hands on the wheel and not on the phone hasn’t worked as well as some would like.

There’s concern that the current fines aren’t high enough to be a deterrent.

The current fines are $75, $125 and $175 for first, second and third offenses respectively.

The new law would give judges the discretion to fine drivers up to $500.

“I think it’s a good idea,” one driver said.

“I think it’s an awesome idea and the reason is, a couple years ago, my father-in-law was in a car accident from a guy that was texting and the very next day he saw the same guy texting,” Sandra Bussacca said.

In an AAA survey, 80 percent of Maryland drivers surveyed, admit to holding their phones while driving, even with almost half saying distracted driving is their number one safety concern.

“So what we continually see with this is the sort of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mentality,” said Ragina Averella of AAA Mid-Atlantic. “If they see you’re a distracted driver, that’s a problem, but if I’m doing it, I sort of have myself under control and that’s certainly not the case.”

The bill is set to go to the Senate.

This is the third year the bill has been introduced.

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