Customers Scramble To Buy Hands-Free Devices For New Md. Law

12:50 PM, Sep 30, 2010   |    comments
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ROCKVILLE, Md. (WUSA) --- Gloria Gross visits the electronics section of her local Target in search for a wireless headset. She does not want to be fined the $40 to $100, if police catch her driving and talking on her cell phone.

Starting Friday, Oct. 1, 2010,  drivers in Maryland will no longer be able to talk on their cell phones while driving, unless they are using a hands-free device. 

"I think it's terrific. I think all phone talking should be banned from the roads. I saw a lady pull off from the parking lot on a red light with two children in the car," says Gross.

Maryland's new law is a secondary offense meaning a police officer has to cite another driving violation as the primary reason for pulling over the driver.

Before the law takes effect, retailers in Maryland say customers are demanding hands-free products. Sprint Nextel's Crystal Davis tells 9NEWS NOW that there has been a 91% increase in the sale of Bluetooth and wired headset devices over the last four weeks.

"The last few days, I probably had two or three times as many people asking," says Katherine Lee, sales team leader at Target.

At the Verizon store in Bethesda, Md., sales representatives are not only selling the technology, but they are also having to explain the new law.

"[Customers are] asking about the law. So what we're doing is taking a pro-active approach to really educate them about what the law is and how we can help them comply," says David Green, data sales consultant at Verizon.

Christine Sheehan says she learned about the law through a Verizon ad in the newspaper. 

"I think it's going to be a big change for all my friends. We all do it, pretty much talking on the phone [while driving]," says Sheehan, a mother of six children in Kensington, Md.

Old habits die hard, but these customers are making every effort to abide by the new law.

"I can't use an ear piece because I can only hear in one ear. So I have to have something that comes out of the speakers that's not attached to my ear," says Kathy Moritz as she gets help from the sales staff at Target.

Written by Elizabeth Jia

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