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3 Md. counties increase enforcement against unbuckled, distracted driving

The sheriffs’ offices from St. Mary’s, Calvert and Charles counties say deputies will conduct waves of stepped-up enforcement from now through August against driving while distracted or not wearing a seat belt.

“More than 120 unbelted drivers and passengers are killed every year in Maryland,” said Chrissy Nizer, administrator of the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Administration.

Nizer also said that distracted driving is reported as a factor in nearly 200 fatalities in Maryland each year.

“What we tell everybody is driving requires full attention,” Nizer said. “It is not something you can do being distracted in any way. You really need to provide your full time and attention to driving.”

Between 2013 and 2017, more than 16,000 crashes in the three Maryland counties involved unbelted and/or distracted drivers.

Besides the stepped-up enforcement, the Maryland Department of Transportation said it will project the safety message on billboards, electronic signboards and through social media.

In Maryland, the fine for not wearing a seat belt is $83. It’s also an $83 fine for a first offense of using a handheld cellphone while driving, $140 for a second offense and $160 for a third. Texting — either reading or sending — while driving is a $70 fine and one point on the driver’s record. The penalties can increase if the device contributes to a crash.

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