Highway Traffic Safety Bills Passed In 2016 Md. General Assembly

Two crack down on drunken driving.

It looks like highway traffic safety was a big issue during the 2016 Maryland General Assembly which adjourned for the year on Monday. AAA Mid-Atlantic says a number of traffic safety bills were approved during the 90-day session.

One measure mandates that drivers convicted of DUI have interlock devices installed in their vehicles, including first-time offenders. Those drivers would have to blow into the devices before starting their cars. The vehicle won’t start if the motorist had too much to drink. “That bill has been introduced in past years, but has unfortunately has failed. And we believe that due to the tragic lost of Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta last December, that actually brought more attention to the issue of drunk drivers as well as the use of ignition interlocks,” says Ragina Cooper Averella, Public and Government Affairs Manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic. This legislation is called “Noah’s Law.”

Another bill that made out of the Legislature is named Alex and Calvin’s Law. They are two 18-year-old graduates of Wooten High School who perished in an alcohol-related¬† car crash last summer.¬† “This legislation would actually provide stiffer penalties for those who provide alcohol for underage drinkers,” says Averella.

But one bill that didn’t make out of the General Assembly would have made the failure of rear seat passengers to use their seatbelts a primary offense. That means a police officer who pulled over a vehicle could cite those in the backseat who are not buckled. up.¬† Currently, it’s a primary offense for drivers and front seat passengers.

Averella says using seatbelts is common sense for drivers and passengers, but not everyone does it. “Sometimes the best way to get the point across is to incentivize them because no one wants a ticket for not wearing their seatbelt,” she says.

AAA says it praises the Legislature for rejecting a bill that would exempted an individual 21 years or older from having to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. The auto club says there were 4,668 motorcycle crashes in 2013. 40% of the 51% of the riders killed, according to AAA, were not wearing helmets.