Cell phone driving ban resurfaces

Friday, Feb. 3, 2006

Legislators are again considering a bill that would prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.

This year’s bill also would allow police to cite drivers who are blatantly distracted, performing activities such as putting on makeup, eating, reading or writing.

The bill’s sponsor, Del. John S. Arnick, (D-Dist. 6) of Dundalk, has proposed the bill unsuccessfully in previous sessions.

‘‘Every year more and more people get aggravated,” he said. ‘‘Every day, almost, somebody complains to me about somebody on a cell phone driving.”

In testimony before the House Environmental Matters Committee Tuesday, Mahlon G. ‘‘Lon” Anderson of AAA Mid-Atlantic said motorists who drive while distracted by other tasks are a big problem. He said studies indicate that cell phone use is only one of the factors that constitute distracted driving.

‘‘The bill mentions reading, writing, performing personal grooming, interacting with animals, adjusting cargo or engaging in any other activity that distracts the person’s attention,” he said. ‘‘This language expands this bill significantly, in my mind, to beyond a cell phone bill. It empowers police to do something about distractive driving.”

Gary M. Horewitz, government affairs counsel for Sprint Nextel, testified in opposition, noting ‘‘what we do oppose is making the assumption that mere use of a cell phone is automatically a distractive driving issue.”

— Maya T. Prabhu,Capital News Service