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Maryland Signs Cell Phone Ban To Reduce Car Accidents

A new state law could affect millions of Maryland motorists. On Thursday, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a bill that bans the use of handheld phones while driving. Beginning Oct. 1, Maryland will join a small minority of U.S. states that prohibits drivers to hold a cell phone to their ear while driving. Maryland officials and advocates believe this new law will make Maryland roadways safer and will significantly reduce the number of car accidents in the state.

Worried about not being about to take that client call or call from your in-laws in the car? Not to worry. As part of a compromise, which ultimately allowed the bill to finally get passed, Maryland motorists are still allowed to talk on their phones while driving if they use a hands-free device like a Bluetooth, speakerphone or similar connection device. 

After the signing of the bill, the Maryland legislature gained praise from many driver safety organizations. Chairman of the Maryland Highway Safety Foundation expressed that "...after Oct. 1, it will be a safer day in Maryland." In a recent Baltimore Sun article, he conveyed that "talking on a cell phone in some cases approximates a .08 alcohol blood alcohol level, making it equivalent to drunk driving [in terms of the likelihood that you're going to have an accident]."

Motorists that violate this new law will incur a $40 fine for the first offense and $100 for every subsequent violation. These offenses do not go against a motorist's driving record and imposes no points unless it's connected to a traffic accident.

Many believe the signing of this bill is a long time coming; the measure took nearly a decade to be passed in general assembly.

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