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Maryland Drivers Need to Put Their Phones Down Say Readers

About 28 percent of Maryland drivers texted while driving in the past six months, according to a recent poll. Patch readers say the number is higher.

Distracted driving laws are under review in the Maryland General Assembly, which could increase fines and add prison time. (Credit: Verona Patch)
Distracted driving laws are under review in the Maryland General Assembly, which could increase fines and add prison time. (Credit: Verona Patch)

Maryland drivers need to pay attention to the road.

That’s the agreement in comments to a recent story about a bill approved last week by the Maryland House of Delegates to increase penalties when an distracted driver using a cellphone or texting causes a crash that kills or seriously injures someone.

The legislation dubbed “Jake’s Law” would add penalties and require suspected distracted drivers to immediately provide police with information about their cellphones, says The Washington Post. Similar legislation is pending in the Maryland Senate.

Maryland already bans the use of hand-held cellphones in nearly all cases while driving. Under the House version of the bill, someone convicted of substantially contributing to a crash that results in death or serious injury to another while using a cellphone or texting would face up to one year in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.

A driver talking on his cellphone crashed into a Baltimore family’s car, killing their 5-year-old son, Jake Owen. Maryland law only allowed for a $1,000 fine in the case, spurring the push to increase the penalties faced by distracted drivers.

Here are excerpts from some of the reader comments on the original story.

Michelle Clark: “I myself could not be more happier that this law has passed now that our family has also lost a loved one due to texting and driving back in March of 2013. A huge thank you goes out to Jake's mother whom has worked so very hard to get this passed. It is a start and with hopes that it will only get harder on people who choose to use cellphones and text while driving.”

Michael: “I agree that texting while driving is both dangerous and dumb, mainly because you have to take your eyes off the road. It should bring heavy penalties, and be a criminal act if it causes an accident. While just talking on a hand-held cellphone can be a distraction for some people, it is no more so than driving while drinking a cup of coffee or soda, or driving with one arm out the window, or listening to the radio, chatting with a passenger, or just daydreaming.”

OldHarfordCounty: “We need to enforce the basics; Running red lights and stop signs, speeding, aggressive driving.”

Marc Riley: “Did I seriously see people squawking about their rights in a conversation about keeping people safe and helping to avoid bodily injury and death? Put the phone down people...PUT IT DOWN.”

Chuck Burton: ”The penalty for distracted driving, causing death or injury should be the same as that for doing the same with a deadly weapon - because a motor vehicle IS potentially a deadly weapon. There have been cases when one has been deliberately used as such.”

Kolo Jezdec March 18, 2014 at 04:02 PM
Put down the phones, coffee cups, sodas, makeup, electric shavers, newspapers, hair brushes, and anything else that might keep you from concentrating fully on operating that 1-2 ton machine capable of killing in an instant.
DeDe March 19, 2014 at 01:09 PM
I see people everyday using their phones, I don't think it has gone down since the new law went into effect. People don't care, it seems like they will talk or text and drive they just don't care. I get scared when I see people behind me in cars that are on their phones and I don't know if they will stop as we come to a light.
I. DeFeo March 20, 2014 at 06:59 AM
I am amazed at how many people I still see talking on cell phones or even texting. I don't think the distracted driving law has changed many people's behavior. Still, I'm glad there are stiffer penalties through Jake's law coming if passed. Maybe that will begin to have an impact.
PH March 20, 2014 at 10:52 AM
When I first got a cell phone years ago, I tried talking while driving. I scared myself. I never did it again, not even in a parking lot. As for texting, that is even more dangerous. Driving a car is NOT the place to be multi tasking! NOTHING is that important. Calls & texts can wait until the driver can pull safely off the road and park. It's not worth my life or others' lives to answer a call or text while driving that's only about a reminder to pick up a loaf of bread.

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