Last year, Pennsylvania joined a growing list of states which have banned cell phone use when driving. One problem with Pennsylvania's law is that it still allows drivers to use cell phones to make a call. The law only makes it illegal to send, read or write a text message, or surf the internet. Violation is a primary offense which means that you can be pulled over if a law enforcement officer has a reasonable basis to believe you were texting on your phone when driving. Click here to read more about PA's texting and driving ban.
Since the law went into effect last March, Pennsylvania law enforcement has issued roughly 900 texting and driving citations as of November 2012. However, for law enforcement, it can be a nightmare trying to enforce the law. According to one online news article, officers say the new law is nearly impossible to enforce. That's because drivers simply have to say they were punching in a phone number.
Texting behind the wheel is a form of distracted driving which is a very serious and dangerous problem. According to the Pennsylvania State Police, in 2010, there were nearly 14,000 distracted driving accidents, 66 of which were fatal. It's especially problematic for young drivers, such as 16 and 17 year olds. Since 2007, there have been almost 4,000 crashes involving 16 and 17 year old drivers who were distracted, 18 of which were fatal.
Other states like Delaware and New Jersey have enacted complete bans on cell phone use when driving. New Jersey has gone one step further. Last year, it amended its cell phone ban, making it easier for prosecutors to charge a driver who causes death or serious injury due to cell phone use when driving. Such drivers can be convicted of vehicular homicide and assault by auto. Read more about the New Jersey amendment here.
Because the anti-texting law is difficult to enforce, drivers may text and drive anyway and the goal of reducing these kinds of accidents is completely lost. State Representative Joseph Markosek (D-25th District) of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has fought to pass a complete ban on all cell phone use when driving. Although it hasn't been successful in the past, we hope that it will be successful in the upcoming legislative term. Contact your local legislators and ask them to support a complete ban on cell phone use.
Suggested article: NJ Law Banning Cell Phone Use & Driving - Criminal Liability
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