It's important for drivers to keep up with changing laws of the road. For Maryland citizens, that's a pressing concern – a number of new driving laws have been put into effect during the last year alone. These laws can help us to drive safer and be more conscious of other individuals on the road.
Yet if we lapse and accidently break one of these new rules, we'll find ourselves with a ticket – and that may send car insurance costs shooting upward. That's not something that anyone wants. So if you're going to be on the Maryland roads anytime soon, make sure you're aware of the two following updates to driving laws – and you can be sure you won't get a ticket.
You can now be pulled over for using a hand-held cell phone
Driving while using a handheld cell phone has been a secondary offense in Maryland for some time now. That means that it was illegal – but you couldn't be pulled over for that alone. That rule, however, has changed. Using a cell phone while driving is now a primary offense, meaning you can be pulled over and fined for it even if you're not doing anything else wrong.
"When people are on cell phones, talking or texting, it does create a very dangerous situation," Maryland State Police Sgt. Marc Black recently told the WBAL news network. "As a primary offense, once we see you using the cell phone, that is grounds for us to stop you, and that's what will happen."
You can still make calls from the car, of course, using either a hands-free device or a speaker phone built directly into the car. And exceptions will be made for individuals who need to call 911, of course. However, many have stressed that this new law – which is in effect now – might even help to save lives.
"Nearly 60 percent of crashes that occurred in the state of Maryland were caused by distracted drivers," Ragina Avarella, of AAA Mid-Atlantic, explained to the same news source. "We're hoping that the strengthening of the existing cell phone law will make motorists think twice."
Mechanic Mike Singh weighed in as well, noting that he's seen his share of accidents that were caused by distracted driving.
All individuals must wear set belts
Here's another law that can help to save lives: all drivers in Maryland must now ensure that all passengers in their car are using seatbelts. If you're found with more people in your car than you have seatbelts, you're going to be receiving a fine as a result.
"You can't legislate common sense or good behavior, but the reality is these are things that are put in place not just to make you safer, but to make other drivers on the road safe as well, so we think it's a good step in the right direction," Avarella said to the news outlet, on the topic of the new seat belt laws.
If you don't follow these laws, you'll find yourself paying fines – and then you may see your car insurance costs go up after the fact. So make sure you keep up with all changes to Maryland driving laws – you never want to be caught off your guard.