According to the Pennsylvania Department Of Transportation, 58 people were killed last year in accidents linked directly to distracted driving. House Appropriations Minority Chairman Rep. Joseph Markosek wants to reduce those numbers. He is planning to introduce a bill later this year that would ban drivers from using a hand held cell phone while at the wheel.
Pennsylvania currently has a ban on texting while driving. However, motorists are still free to continue using hand-held cell phones while driving. This has raised concerns about the limited effect of the texting-while-driving law, because using a hand-held cell phone is also responsible for taking a motorist’s attention away from the road. Several states around the country have bans on hand-held cell phones, and Rep. Markosek wants Pennsylvania to join those ranks. According to him, the new bill would help police enforce the existing law on texting while driving.
Under the bill, a motorist caught violating the hand-held phone ban would be fined $50. If he’s using a hand-held cell phone while driving in a school zone or a highway safety zone, he would be fined $100. The bill would not apply to motorists using GPS devices while driving. The bill is reported to have wide support by Democrats.
There are concerns that the current law that bans texting while driving has a loophole that could prevent drivers from being cited. For example, a driver who is pulled over for texting while driving can tell a police officer that he was not texting, but dialing a number while driving. In the future, if this bill becomes law, even dialing a number while driving would be a citable violation.