Maryland Lawmaker Proposes Distracted Driving Cameras to Curb Texting while Driving

Maryland has some of the most restrictive distracted-driving laws on the books. The state banned the use of handheld devices while driving in 2013, making texting and talking on hand-held cellphones while behind the wheel illegal. However, one Montgomery County councilman feels the fines attached to those violations ($75 for the first offense, $125 for the second, and $175 for subsequent offenses) are not enough of a deterrent.

Earlier this month, Montgomery County council member Tom Hucker proposed a program to install distracted driving cameras on Maryland highways. Citing the 38,000 Maryland motor vehicle accidents a year resulting in serious injuries and death, Hucker says it is time to take more strident measures to curb bad distracted-driving habits. His proposal for cameras that could catch distracted drivers in the act would be the first-of-its-kind surveillance program in the country.

Hucker says the technology for this type of highway camera monitoring system exists, but Maryland counties do not have permission to use it. His hopes for proposing such a system is that once caught texting or talking on handheld cellphones, drivers would receive a warning or fine. Lawmaker attempts  to raise the existing fines have failed in the past.

In recent years, some citizens and lawmakers have pushed back against the use of red light cameras (a/k/a speed cameras) on Maryland streets, stating they intrude on privacy. Speed cameras are in place across Maryland, including in school zones and work zones—generating $64 million in revenue a year via citations and fines against drivers going 12 mph or more over the speed limit.

However, a representative for AAA Mid-Atlantic told ABC News that distracted-driving surveillance cameras would be “invasive,” recording not only those who break Maryland traffic laws but anyone else who drives by the equipment.

The council will pick up with the proposal again when the legislature meets in January 2020.

Related Baltimore Injury Attorney articles:

Maryland Senate Hears Bill to Double Fines for Handheld Cell Phone Use while Driving
March 2016

Maryland Speed Cameras Aim to Reduce Work Zone Motor Vehicle Crashes
April 2015

Sources:

Here’s what a councilmember proposes to combat texting and driving
ABC News  Dec. 13, 2019

Speed cameras in Maryland collect $64 million in revenue
Washington Post  May 15, 2019