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Maryland passes tougher texting-while-driving law

Posted On Tue, March 8, 2011

There are laws already on the books in Maryland that ban texting while driving. But a new bill will give that law more teeth.

The legislation that was in place only allowed police officers to crack down on texting-while-driving offenders if they were being pulled over for an unrelated reason, such as speeding. The new law will make the practice a primary offense. The former law resulted in 280 citations in 2010, according to State Senator James Brochin in an interview with the Washington Post.

Passed in the Maryland Senate by a vote of 35 to 11, the new law will prohibit drivers from reading and sending text messages. The previous one banned only the writing of those messages.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, nine states ban driving while talking on a hand-held cellphone and 30 states ban drivers from texting. There are partial bans in eight states.

With 1.6 million motor vehicle crashes caused by cellphones every year, according to the National Safety Council, it's possible that auto insurance companies will charge higher rates in states with partial or no bans in effect.  

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