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House passes bill to bar cell phone use in cars
[March 16, 2011]

House passes bill to bar cell phone use in cars

Mar 16, 2011 (Catonsville Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Residents gave mixed reactions March 10 to legislation that would strengthen law regarding the use of cell phones while driving.

The Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill by a 92-40 vote that would make driving while talking on a cell phone a primary rather than a secondary offense.

"I was very happy," said Del. James Malone, who represents Catonsville, Arbutus and part of Howard County, the bill's lead sponsor.

The change would allow police to pull drivers over simply for being on their cell phones, instead of for another violation, such as speeding or running a stop sign.

Malone said he wanted to change the laws prohibiting motorists from talking on cell phones while driving, which the state legislature enacted in October, to make them identical to language included in the state's laws against texting while driving.

Like texting, talking on a cell phone will now be a primary offense and will prohibit usage while motorists are on the roadway, changes that will make the laws easier to understand for police and residents alike, Malone said.

Residents will no longer be able to talk on a cell phone while they are stopped in traffic at a red light or stop sign, he said.

"We want them to pay attention to the traffic and what is going on," he said.

Malone said the bill will now be referred to the state Senate.

Reaction from the streets Krystle Green Baltimore City Resident Works at Bill's Music in downtown Catonsville Spotted: Outside of Bill's Music on Frederick Road.

"I think that it's actually a good idea. I know that I've even been in situations where I've been talking on my phone and not paying attention as much I probably should be.

"What I do think is interesting though is that you can still change your radio station and look down, and that's not illegal, but talking on your phone is. I think that's a little hypocritical.

"I think more accidents stem from you not paying attention by looking down at things rather than talking on the phone. I think that if you're going to make anything illegal, you should make all of it be illegal." Marla Weiner Relay resident Sign language interpreter Spotted: Outside of Atwater's Naturally Leavened Bread on Frederick Road.

"It doesn't matter whether your eyes are on the road, it's where your attention is. When you're talking on the phone, your attention is on the conversation.

"So I'm totally for banning cell phones while people are behind wheels, in vehicles that can crash into other people's vehicles. I support it." Bill Webster Catonsville resident Service Coordinator for people with developmental disabilities.

Spotted: Outside of Atwater's Naturally Leavened Bread on Frederick Road.

"I feel two ways. When I'm taking a call or I really need to make call sometimes I do it, so I'd like to avoid the penalty. But I do think that it is really a really good idea because there's all kind of distractions that go on on the phone." "The one thing that I think is probably shortsighted in the bill is it's not just cell phones, it's iPods, it's anything, any device that people can use that will distract them." Fred Bartlett Jr.

Catonsville resident Communication administrator for Community College of Baltimore County's Catonsville campus Spotted: Coming home from lunch at Duesenberg's American Cafe with his family.

"I think it's a good idea. I get sick and tired of sitting behind people at traffic lights because they're lost in their phone conversation. I was just telling my wife this morning, I got cut off three times by a guy who was on a cell phone because he was unaware.

"So, it's just crazy. I don't have a problem with them making it a primary offense and giving them a ticket." Jessie Harkey From Loudoun County, Virginia Junior at University of Maryland, Baltimore County Spotted: On Frederick Road in downtown Catonsville with friends.

"If they blatantly see you and you're on your phone, I think that's obvious, and they can obviously easily pull you over for that.

"But I think that if you're maybe using your iPod or something of that nature, it's harder to actually justify or clarify if you're actually using your cell phone.

"I think that in theory, it's a good idea to prevent accidents because I know I've caught myself texting or whatever and looking up really quick and it's just not that safe, but I think that it's going to be hard for people to necessarily follow." Ray Stinsman From New Jersey Freshman at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Spotted: On his way to Rita's on East Drive.

"It's kind of an inconvenience. When you're driving, you kind of need to make a call sometimes, and once this bill goes into effect, it's not going to work for me when I need to make a phone call to my school or coach, and I'm just sitting there and I get pulled over because I'm on the phone. It's not the greatest bill, but it might save lives, I'm not sure." To see more of the Catonsville Times, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to Copyright (c) 2011, Catonsville Times, Ellicott City, Md. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For more information about the content services offered by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT), visit

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