Effort to close loophole on driving and dialing crashes
The measure, sponsored by Del. James Malone, passed 92 to 39 in the House, but fell one vote short of Senate committee passage after a lively debate. Last year the General Assembly voted to outlaw driving and dialing. But lawmakers made the violation a secondary offense, meaning police are from pulling over motorists unless the drivers are breaking another rule.
Malone and other supporters argued that Maryland drivers have gotten wise to the loophole and are breaking the law with impunity and endangering the public.
But opponents, including Sen. Bobby Zirkin, noted that the moment drivers who are yacking on their cell phones swerve slightly, police can switch on their lights and make traffic stops. Therefore, cell phone talkers who are endangering the public can be stopped, Zirkin argued.
The General Assembly did vote this year to prohibit reading texts while driving, tightening a law passed two years ago that made it illegal to write texts while behind the wheel.