The Maryland State Police, Frederick Barrack, reminds motorists that on October 1, 2013, new traffic laws go into effect in the State of Maryland.
On October 1st, driver's operating motor vehicles while utilizing hand held cell phones can be stopped as a primary offense. This means that law enforcement can pull over drivers using hand held cell phones without needing an unrelated violation in order to make the stop. Also, the fines for a first offense will increase from $40 to $75. This law intends to better enforce the issues of distracted driving, a major cause of traffic collisions. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates for 2011 show that 11% of fatal auto accidents, and 17% of personal injury collisions cited distracted driving as a contributing factor. This law will cover both texting and talking with a hand-held device.
Also on October 1st, 2013, Maryland will require all occupants of motor vehicles to wear a seat belt. This includes the mandatory use of child safety seats for all children younger than age 8, unless the child is 4 feet, 9 inches or taller, as well as mandatory seat belt use for all other occupants, regardless of where they are seated in the vehicle. Fines for seat belt violations will increase from $25 to $50 per violation. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates that 26 lives could have been saved if all occupants had been wearing safety belts.