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In six months, new cell phone rules will be in effect on the roads and everyone driving through Maryland should know them.

You can use your hands to turn your cell phone on, to answer and hang up calls and to turn the power off. Outside of those activities you’re not allowed to touch your phone.

The law goes further for some people, prohibiting all use of cell phones by school bus drivers and drivers with learner’s permits.

The law has an exception if you need to call for help in an emergency and is a secondary offense, meaning you can’t be ticketed unless you’re pulled over for something else. The punishment is a $40 fine for the first ticket then $100 after that.

The new law goes into effect on Oct. 1. Maryland law already bans text messaging while driving since Oct. 1, 2009. Fines for texting and driving can go up to $500 and texting is a primary offense, so police can pull you over for that reason alone.

Maryland’s Governor, Martin O’Malley, already banned state employees from using handheld cell phone while driving Maryland vehicles.

Some critics say the new law doesn’t go far enough towards reducing driver distractions. Maryland Highway Safety Foundation co-chairman David Nevins tells the Frederick News-Post, the first sighting of someone driving with an iPad on a lap has now been reported.

The new law is not as harsh as hands-free restrictions in the District and six other states.

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