Anti-texting law: 'Hands free or pay the fee'

October 05, 2011

I read with interest your article "New texting fine in force today" (Oct. 1). But while the anti-texting law mandates stiff fines for violations, the law against cell phone use without a "hands free" device remains a secondary offense. The legislature should make it a primary offense as well, then enforce it vigorously.

It's amazing to see how many people are talking on their hand-held phones and what an annoyance and potential hazard they are. You know the ones: They're driving 50 mph in the fast lane on I-95, or not stopping at stop signs or, even more annoying, staying stopped at a stop sign until they finish talking. There's a whole new breed of drivers in Maryland who are holding their cell phone with one hand and gesturing with their other, apparently while steering their moving cars with their knees and/or feet!

The first few years after its passage, the mandatory seat belt law was widely ignored. Why do we now routinely buckle up? Because the law was not only enforced, it was also enforceable and there was an aggressive campaign to educate the public. Maryland drivers will routinely ignore the "hands free" cell phone law until (1) the Maryland legislature makes it a primary offense, and (2) it is enforced and memorably marketed — "Hands free or pay the fee."

Jared Garman, Havre de Grace

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