Maryland will join 12 other states that have banned texting while driving; six additional states will prohibit the practice by January. It will be a primary offense, meaning officers can pull over anyone they suspect is using a wireless device to send a text message. Offenders face a maximum fine of $500 and one point on their driving records.
Over the last five years, an average of more than 30,000 crashes has occurred annually on Maryland roads as a result of inattentive driving, according to data from the Maryland Highway Safety Office. During the same period, nearly 20,000 people are injured annually in Maryland because of distracted driving, which includes cellular phone use, texting, changing radio stations, eating and more.
"We feel it's a great first step towards addressing the issue of distracted driving," said Jeremy Gunderson, the office's spokesman. "Nobody out there is claiming it to be the panacea, but with the rapid increase of cellular device ownership, it's a great first step and we look forward to seeing some great results arise from this."