BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland police agencies have issued thousands of tickets to drivers for using hand-held cell-phones behind the wheel in the year since a ban took effect.

Records of electronic citations and warnings handed out by 76 police agencies show that 4,021 warnings and 5,227 citations have been issued to drivers who failed to use a hands-free device. The violation is a secondary offense and was only issued to drivers who were pulled over for another offense.

State Sen. Norman Stone, the bill’s sponsor, believes the ban has raised awareness but might be more effective if the violation was a primary offense.

Data show about 966 warnings and citations have been issued for texting while driving since 2009. A ban on reading texts takes effect October 1.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.


Sarah Brumfield

Associated Press