Senate debate on banning texting while driving stalls for day
Maryland's state Senate put the breaks on a bill to prohibit reading texts while driving -- at least for one day.
The pause came after a lively debate: GOP senators said the bill is unnecessary since reading a text while driving violates both common sense and the current negligent driving statutes.
To make the point, Sen. Allan Kittleman, a Howard County Republican, offered an amendment to the bill that would prohibit drivers from reading newspapers while driving. A vote on that was not yet taken ... though he talked about drafting additional amendments along that line.
The bill is an attempt to close a loophole lawmakers left two years ago when they banned sending texts while driving. The law was, accidentally, silent on reading the messages. The Sun's Julie Bykowicz wrote about the bill's hearing a few weeks ago.
Sen. James Brochin, the bill's sponsor, said the legislation is a simple fix to an established law. "When you are driving you should not be texting."
But Sen. E.J. Pipkin noted that the bill also prohibits texting while stopped at a traffic signal -- a change that affects drivers who catch up on their correspondence at red lights.
Another complaint from the GOP was the bill would be difficult to enforce and would "shred" probable cause rules because so many people fiddle with their phones while behind the wheel.
To make the point, Pipkin waving his iPhone, Pipkin said the device holds all of his music and plugs into his stereo: Could he be stopped just because he was changing songs? It also works as a GPS: Could police stop him while he was reading directions?
The debate will likely resume Thursday.