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For Immediate Release: September 29, 2010

Cell Phone Restriction, Yielding to Emergency Vehicles Among Them

GLEN BURNIE, MD (September 29, 2010)---The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration issues an important reminder to all motorists: a new restriction on the use of cell phones while driving goes into effect on Friday, October 1, 2010.  The new law prohibits anyone from using a hand-held cell phone while operating a vehicle on Maryland roadways.

Text messaging is already prohibited for all drivers. A law banning text messaging while driving went into effect one year ago, October 1, 2009.

All drivers 18 and older must use a hands-free device while driving.  Drivers under the age of 18 and drivers with learner's permits are already restricted from using any wireless communications device except to call 911.  In addition, all school bus drivers are banned from using any wireless communication device.  

"In 2008, there were 23,707 inattentive driver-involved crashes that killed 35 people in Maryland and injured 11, 636 people," said MVA Administrator John Kuo.  "Distracted driving is a major highway safety issue, this new law is aimed at reducing the number of distracted-driving crashes, injuries, and fatalities.

Other Motor Vehicle related laws taking effect on October 1, 2010 include:

HB 93 - Motor Vehicle Administration - Identification Cards and Drivers' Licenses

This law allows the MVA to increase the validity period of an ID card for anyone 65-years old or older from five years to eight years. The bill also authorizes the waiver of a vision examination for an applicant who is applying for a corrected driver's license and has passed an acceptable vision exam within the last year.

HB 934 - Vehicle Laws - Commercial Vehicles - Handheld Telephones Utilizing Push-to-Talk Technology

This law allows a person driving a commercial vehicle to use handheld push-to-talk technology.

HB 499 - Motor Vehicles - Approaching Emergency Vehicles and Personnel

This law requires a driver to change lanes away from an emergency vehicle if the driver is approaching it from the rear. The emergency vehicle must be using its visual signals and must be parked or stopped. If the lane change is not possible, the driver must reduce speed to a reasonable and prudent speed that ensures the safety of emergency services personnel. A violation of this provision is a misdemeanor subject to a maximum fine of $500.

SB 624 - Vehicle Laws - Bicycles and Motor Scooters - Rules of the Road

The new law allows a person to ride from the sidewalk curb or edge of the roadway in or through a crosswalk to the opposite curb or edge. If there is no bike lane paved to a smooth surface, a person operating a bicycle or motor scooter may use the roadway or shoulder.

SB 51 - Vehicle Laws - Bicycles, EPAMDs, and Motor Scooters - Rules of the Road

This law requires a driver to give a buffer of at least three feet when overtaking a bicycle, segway, or a motor scooter. It also requires a driver to yield the right-of-way to a person who is lawfully riding a bicycle, segway, or a motor scooter in a designated bicycle lane or shoulder if the vehicle driver is about to enter or cross the designated bicycle lane or shoulder.

HB 1025 - Baltimore City - Sale of Motor Fuel for Dirt Bikes - Prohibition

This law prohibits a person from dispensing motor fuel into a dirt bike from a service station fuel pump in Baltimore City and requires the service stations to post a sign stating the bill's prohibition.  A court that convicts a person must notify the MVA of the conviction, which may suspend the person's driver's license.

HB 1156 - Victims' Rights - Fatal Vehicular Accident - Suspension of License

This law allows the MVA to suspend, for up to six months, the license of a driver convicted of a moving violation that contributed to a traffic fatality. It authorizes the victim's representative to be notified of a license suspension hearing held as a result of the moving violation, and the right to give an oral or written statement at the hearing.

HB 469 - Motor Vehicle Excise Tax Credit for Electric Vehicles

The law creates a tax exemption of up to $2000 for qualified plug-in electric vehicles. The credit is limited to one vehicle per individual and 10 vehicles per business entity. The credit is available for qualified vehicles titled on or after October 1, 2010, and sunsets June 30, 2013.

HB 825 - Vehicle Laws - Required Security - Minimum Amounts

This law raises the minimum liability amounts of auto insurance for claims of bodily injury or death arising from a motor vehicle accident from $20,000 to $30,000 for one person and from $40,000 to $60,000 for two or more persons.

HB 1199 - Motor Vehicles - Salvage - Standards and Requirements

This law requires all vehicles that are acquired by an insurance company as a result of a total loss claim settlement to be branded as salvage regardless of the percentage damage to the vehicle (with the sole exception being recovered stolen vehicles with less than 75% damage).

SB 67 - Vehicle Laws - Issuance of Temporary Registration Plates by Dealers - Transmission of Information and Record Keeping

This law requires car dealers to transmit vehicle and registration information electronically to the MVA on the same day that they issue a 60-day temporary registration and to keep temporary registration plate records for three years instead of permanently.

SB 85 - Vehicle Laws - Electronic Transmission of Title Information by Dealers

This law allows the MVA to accept the electronic submission of paperwork by auto dealers the same as it does the hardcopy versions. The paperwork pertains to the completed applications for certificated of titles that auto dealers submit to the MVA on monthly basis.

SB 466 - Vehicle Laws - Off-Highway Recreational Vehicles - Titling

This law creates a definition for an Off-Highway Recreational Vehicles (OHRV), commonly known as an ATV or snowmobile, and requires them to be titled. Therefore, an excise tax is imposed on OHRVs that are purchased on or after October 1, 2010. The tax is calculated by using the fair market value or $320 whichever is greater.

HB 674 - High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes - use by Plug-in Vehicles

The law allows plug-in vehicles to travel on High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes, regardless of the number of occupants in the vehicle. It allows the MVA to charge a fee of up to $20 for issuing HOV-lane permits to plug-in vehicle owners.  The Maryland State Highway Administration may limit the number of permits issued to ensure that HOV lanes are not degraded by overuse. The proposal terminates on September 30, 2013.

SB 344 - Motor Vehicles - Limited Speed Vehicles - Requirements and Prohibitions

This law limits vehicles with the maximum speed capability of between 25 and 55 mph to be driven on highways where the speed limit is at least five miles per hour less than the vehicle's maximum speed.  An auto dealer must inform the buyer of the limitations and the vehicle must be sold with an emblem designating it as a "limited speed vehicle."

Buel Young
Caryn Coyle
MVA Organization Relations
(410) 768-7386

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