Changes Come to Maryland’s Driving Laws

For students who provide their own transportation to North Point everyday, a set of laws passed this year by the Maryland General Assembly may change their daily routine. Texting, checking email, or viewing messages on a phone while operating a vehicle is now a primary offense, carrying a fine of $70. If those actions are believed to have caused an accident, the fine increases to $110 and three points are added to a driver’s license. The law does not apply to texting 911 or using the GPS features on a phone.

The state government originally banned texting and driving in 2009 in response to the amount of accidents and fatalities it was causing. As the Washington Post reported, Col. Marcus Brown of the Maryland State Police stated, “We have seen dramatic declines in traffic fatalities in Maryland in recent years and we want that trend to continue.”

“It will save lives because people won’t text and drive,” said Ameer Patel (’13) of the law. He commented that despite the danger, he has family that still drive distracted.

At North Point, many juniors and seniors drive to school, arriving in the parking lots under the watchful gaze of various staff and administrators. Texting and driving is certainly forbidden on campus at the risk of losing one’s driving privileges altogether. Away from school, though, students don’t have Mr. Wilson to stop them from making a bad decision.

“It’s always in the back of my mind that if I can get a ticket and get my license taken away, it’s probably not a good idea,” said Chris Levesque (’12).

Nationally, twenty percent of crashes causing injury in 2009 involved distracted drivers. Eighteen percent of those involved cell phone use. The majority of distracted drivers are under twenty years old. That statistic that should make high school students think twice about their decisions behind the wheel.