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New Md. traffic safety laws coming Oct. 1

Wednesday - 9/26/2012, 3:43am  ET

child in car booster safety seat (AP)
The new law requires children under 8 to be in a safety seat, regardless of weight. (AP)

Dick Uliano, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - A frustrating traffic problem with which the region has become all-too-acquainted is the confusion that reigns when power outages knock out traffic lights at intersections.

Do you stop? Who goes first?

Starting Monday, Oct. 1, a new Maryland law aims to bring some order to the chaos.

Under the law, "if you're approaching a dark intersection ... where the traffic lights are not working, you must stop," says Lon Anderson, spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

After stopping, the driver must yield to any other vehicle or pedestrian already in the intersection.

The fines for violating the law are steep.

"It is a $90 fine for not obeying this law and two points on your driver's license," says Anderson.

If drivers break the law and contribute to a crash, "then the fine becomes $130 and three points on your driver's license," Anderson adds.

Anderson recalls the powerful and destructive June 29 derecho that caused widespread power outages in the region and led to traffic gridlock and many accidents.

The new law will likely provide clear order and guidance for drivers, according to AAA, which supported its passage and that of an another law that takes hold Monday.

Starting Oct.1, all children under the age of 8 must ride in a child safety seat regardless of weight, unless the child is 4 foot 9 inches or taller.

The booster seat law gets rid of the weight exemption that allowed kids out of the seats when they reached 65 pounds.

"This is a law that should help keep children safe. It makes it clear that when a child is under 8 years old they need to be in special child seating," Anderson said.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)