Put Your Phone Down and Buckle up Your Child(ren) - It's the Law! - Community Advisory

Our Crossing Guards’ primary responsibility is to facilitate the safe crossing of students to and from school each day in all weather conditions. These crossing guards are trained and certified in traffic and pedestrian safety. Each one wears a highly visible bright yellow reflective safety vest.

Takoma Park Police remind drivers that it is very important to obey the posted speed limit and pay close attention to their surroundings at all times. Within a school zone, it is especially important to be alert, drive carefully, and follow the directions of the crossing guards.

The Crossing Guards have noticed that, during their crossing times, drivers are still talking on their cell phones, with the phone in their hands, and their child(ren) are standing up in the vehicle while it is moving, or otherwise just not buckled up.

As you know, or should know, as of October 1, 2013, police in Maryland are able to pull drivers over for talking on a hand-held cell phone as a primary offense. Even if your phone is on speaker, if you’re holding it in your hand, you will be violating the law.

Drivers caught driving while using a hand-held mobile phone can be fined $83 for a first-time offense, up from $40 under current law, but $140 for a 2nd offense and $160 for a 3rd and subsequent offense. The ticket carries no points unless the action contributed to an accident, in which three (3) points will also be assessed in addition to the fine.

Drivers still have other options with hands free devices like blue-tooth, but police stress the safest method is pulling your car off the road to make calls. Talking or texting on a cell phone is the number one source of driver distraction. On average, more than 30,000 people in Maryland are injured annually as a result of distracted driving crashes.

In addition, all passengers, by law, are to wear seat belts while traveling in the backseat of any vehicle. Children 16 and under were covered by existing state law (except children under 8 or are 4 feet 9 inches or taller), but the fine for violating that law will rise to match the fine for adults.

Drivers are no longer allowed to have more passengers than seat belts in a car.

New Increased fines:

The following violations are now $83.00 fines:

Failing to secure a child under the age of 8 in a child safety seat when transporting in a motor vehicle.

Fail to transport a child under age 16 in (child safety seat per instructions, seat belt).

Using a (child safety seat, seatbelt) to (restrain, seat, position) more than one individual.

Operate a motor vehicle with (operator, occupant under age 16) not restrained by (seatbelt, child safety seat).

Passenger age 16 or more in outboard front seat of motor vehicle. without seat belt restraint. Example of an "outboard front seat" is a front passenger seat next to a door.

New Secondary Traffic Offense:

Passengers age 16 or more in rear seat of motor vehicle without seatbelt restraint. The fine is $83.00, including court costs.

Who is covered by the law?

The law covers the driver and passengers in both the front and back seats. Each person that is not buckled up (driver and passenger) may receive a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt.

In the case where neither the driver nor any passenger 15 years of age or younger are buckled up, the driver will receive a ticket for both.

Texting/Talking while driving is extremely dangerous, not only to the driver and the occupants of the vehicle, but the pedestrians and other drivers around you.

In addition, the figures are familiar: 40,000 people die each year in car accidents, the leading cause of death for people under the age of 35. Safety belts can prevent death in about half of these accidents. If you know this and are still not buckling up yourself or your child(ren), you may need to ask yourself why not.

Please hang up your phone and buckle up yourself and your children. It's not only the law, it makes sense and could save yours or another person's life.

tip411: 

Use your cell phone to send an anonymous tip to the Takoma Park Police Department.

  • Text to 847411
  • Type TPPDTIP at the beginning of your message.
  • Type your message, including as much detail as possible, to ensure that your tip is thoroughly investigated.

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If you see a crime in progress, contact the Takoma Park Police at 301-270-1100. If you need to report an emergency that involves the need for fire or rescue services, call 9-1-1.