One Day after the National Transportation Safety Board recommended states ban all cell phone use in vehicles, one delegate from Baltimore County said a lesser approach may be more effective.
Currently, Maryland law prohibits the use of hand-held phones, but makes the offense secondary, which means police must pull the driver over for another offense before the driver can be cited for using the cell phone.
Texting while operating a vehicle is a primary offense.
"My bill is not as stringent as the federal recommendations," said Malone, who chairs the House Motor Vehicle and Transportation Subcommittee. "Mine says you need to be hands free.
"My number one priority is if you do not have the phone in your hands, you can not text," said Malone.
The five-term delegate said he had no plans to file a bill implementing a complete ban on cell phone use as recommended by the NTSB.
Malone sponsored one of the bills that created current law. Last year, he sponsored a bill making the use of a hand-held cellular device by drivers a primary offense. That bill died in a Senate committee.
Malone acknowledged that current law is not effective and said he has seen examples of people using their hand-held phones almost daily.
"I think the law is not effective because people know what a secondary offense is," said Malone. "I think once it's a primary offense, you'll see people going to Bluetooth and what have you."
Malone said he also plans on filing a bill instituting penalties for distracted driving. The idea for the bill came from Malone's personal experience, including an incident in which he encountered a woman driving on I-97 doing 40 mph in the left lane.
"She had four dogs in her lap," said Malone. "I think one of the dogs was driving. Clearly if you have four dogs in your lap, you're distracted."