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Posted at 8:26 AM ET, 02/15/2011

Md. bills target reading text messages

By Associated Press

ANNAPOLIS -- Maryland residents are prohibited from writing text messages while driving. Now, lawmakers say it's time for them to stop reading them.

A House of Delegates committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on legislation that would prohibit a driver from reading a text message or e-mail while driving. The measure went before lawmakers last year, but differences between the House and Senate were not worked out, and the bill failed to pass.

Current law prohibits a driver from using a hand-held device to send a text message while driving, but it still allows a driver to read a text message.

A Senate committee is holding a hearing on a bill that would ban text messaging when a vehicle is stopped at a traffic light.

Maryland bills

House Bill 196
House Bill 221
Senate Bill 424

By Associated Press  | February 15, 2011; 8:26 AM ET
Categories:  Driving, Maryland  
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Comments

Why don't they ban the cops? Thats who I see breaking the cell phone law...CONSTANTLY!!! And while there at it they should ban the radio, eating, and talking to passengers. Those distractions are just as bad as the cell phone. This is getting ridiculous!!!

Posted by: BarbaraChesapeakeStreet | February 15, 2011 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Why don't they ban the cops? Thats who I see breaking the cell phone law...CONSTANTLY!!!
While there at it why not ban the car radio, ipods, mp3 players, eating, and talking to passengers. Those distractions are just as bad as the cell phone. This is getting ridiculous!!! (sarcasm)

Posted by: BarbaraChesapeakeStreet | February 15, 2011 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Cops are above the law, obviously.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | February 15, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I had a state cop swerve to go around me and onto a shoulder because he was typing on his dash-mounted laptop.

I'm not advocating texting at 60mph on the Beltway. But there are hundreds of distractions. How about loose pets in the car? The one time I was involved in a multi-car accident, it was because granny had her corgi loose in the car. What about loose kids? We barely enforce this as it is. How about eating? Heck - I'd be happy if people obeyed the stop sign beside my house. Texting isn't safe, but texting laws are a red herring.

Posted by: mwcob | February 15, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

The benefit of these sorts of laws is not really whether anyone will get ticketed. The benefit is that they potentially help the victim in an accident caused by irresponsible fools sending or receiving text messages while driving. A statute of this sort will often be taken by a court as evidence of the applicable standard of care, such that in a civil case brought by the victim the fact that a statute prohibits reading a text message while driving may be taken by the judge as conclusive evidence that the defendant who was reading a text message while driving was behaving in a negligent fashion.

I see Car and Driver magazine has an app for Android and Blackberry devices called "Text You Later"--you activate it when you get into the car and it automatically responds to text messages by saying that you are driving and will respond at a later time. It also reads you the message out loud. Sounds like a good idea. I have no idea how it works (I have a Verizon iPhone and the app isn't compatible), but I almost never send or receive text messages anyway.

What's a shame is that so many people lack the common sense to accept that they shouldn't be doing these sorts of things while driving anyway--if people had brains, there wouldn't be a need for these sorts of laws even to be considered.

Posted by: 1995hoo | February 15, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Add me to the list of people who has seen police officers engage in distracted driving while trying to use their computers. I don't have an answer to that.

As for other forms of distracted driving, ranging from the kids in the backseat, to the loose Corgi, to fiddling with the radio, etc., etc., those would fall under the general "distracted driving" category. But let's face it, the single most common type of distracted driving is cell phone use, either texting or talking, so it does make sense to have laws on the books focused solely on those behaviors.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | February 15, 2011 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Can't believe this was not a part of the recently passed bill. Reading a text message is as dangerous as sending a text message.

Posted by: mbrumble | February 16, 2011 8:10 AM | Report abuse

I'm having trouble with some of the comments. Would people read a book or newspaper or whatever while driving? (Only the very stupid, but bear with me.) What are you doing while sending or receiving a text? Reading. The cops are reading their computers because that's how they find out the information they need to arrest somebody.

It just seems simple...

Posted by: JustSaying1945 | February 16, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I would LOVE to see a cop write a ticket and win the case in court!

How can the officer prove that the person is reading a text message and not the time, weather, internet, etc, on the phone?

Innocent until proven guilty, right? Probably not, seeing how a lot is changing in the US and our rights going out the window, e.g. PATRIOT Act.

Posted by: redskinsux | February 16, 2011 11:52 PM | Report abuse

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