Maryland State Police Remind Motorists About Dangers Of Distracted Driving

That includes using hand-held cell phones, and texting while behind the wheel.

Frederick, Md. (KM) – Maryland State Police are reminding motorists about the dangers of driving while distracted, particularly talking on a hand-held cell phone or testing while behind the wheel. It’s estimated that a person texting takes their eyes off the road for five seconds,”: says spokesman Ron Snyder. “And you want to put this in perspective: it’s like covering the length of a football field while driving blindfolded going 55-miles per hour.”

Maryland law prohibits the use of hand-held cell phones and texting while driving, and violators will face penalties. “A first time offender caught using a cell phone while driving faces a maximum of an $83 fine; a second-time offender, a maximum $140 fine; a thud time offender, a maximum $160 fine,”: says Snyder.

For those who text while driving, they can be fined $70 and get one point on their driver’s licenses. If the device is used for texting behind the wheel, and that contributes to a vehicle crash, the fine could increase  to $110 with three points on your driving record.

Snyder also says this increased enforcement follows the passage of Jake’s Law. It’s named after five-year-old Jake Owen, who was killed in a vehicle crash in 2011 caused by a distracted driver.  . He says the law has been in effect since 2014. “This is  a law that states that a driver causing serious injury or death while talking on hand-held cell phone or texting, they receive three years in prison and a $5,000 fine,” he says.

“These are primary offenses and police officers can stop drivers when those activities are observed, regardless of the presence of the violations,” he continues.

State Police strongly urge motorists to use their cell phones only in emergency situations. If they are drowsy, pull off the road. They should also limit the number of passengers and the level of activity in the vehicles. Avoid eating while driving, and do any multi-tasking outside of the vehicle.

During Easter holiday weekend, the Maryland State Police Western Troop conducted a distracted driving and seatbelt enforcement initiative on Interstates 70 and 68 in Frederick, Washington, Allegany and Garrett Counties. Authorities say 134 traffic stops were made. A total of 66 distracted driving and seat belt citations were issued. There were also six impaired driving arrests, six drug arrests and one arrest  on a warrant.

By Kevin McManus