After a year that Pennsylvania’s texting and driving laws were legislated, State Police reported that more than ten- thousand citations have been issued. Texting Law of Pa. became effective last March 8, 2012; however, police opined the difficulty of enforcing the law as drivers are permitted to enter phone numbers into their mobiles.
Now that Pennsylvania has ban texting on mobile, at least there are also two bills that seek to ban the use of cell phone. Another would allow cities in Pa. to legislate their own cell phone laws.
A bill has been refiled by State Rep. Joseph Markosek banning handheld mobile phones for all drivers. He also proposed a ban on the use of any wireless communication device by novice drivers. Markosek believed that state’s texting ban was ineffective and inadequate to protect people on the road from drivers whose attention are distracted by handheld communication devices. For professional licensed drivers to talk on cell phones, they have to make use of devices that are hand-free. House Bill no. 693 penalized double fines when violations are committed along school zone.
Last year, the House Republican leaders were able to pass a texting law after removing a provision while driving. The House majority representative considered the cell phone law a priority while the Senate president pro tem did not consider the issue important.
Current prohibition prohibits all drivers from text messaging while driving; those caught violating the law is fine $50. But there are no statewide limits on cell phone use and some states are allowed to propose local ordinances affecting cell phones and driving.
During its first year of effectivity, Philadelphia-area police were able to issue more than 245 citations to motorists violating the state’s texting & driving law. That makes up almost a quarter of operators given distracted driving tickets statewide in the first year up until March 8, 2013.
The legislation on distracted driving for 2013-2014 includes: House Bill no. 693 that prohibits using all wireless communications handheld devices, including cell phones while driving in the state. Only hands-free, GPS and entry of phone numbers are allowed. Novice drivers are prohibited from using any kind of handheld devices. There will be a fine of $50 for each violation which will be doubled if it happened in school zones. It also stressed the importance of driver’s education. This bill submitted by Markosek.
Legislation includes House Bill 109 which is a general distracted driving bill and a rerun of last session’s HB 896. It adds an offense of distracted driving for drivers convicted of careless driving when caught using electronic communications devices. There will be an add penalty of $50. Considered distracted behavior are reading, grooming, using a radio, CB radio or cell phone. The bill was filed by Rep Chris Ross.
House Bill no. 363 gives any municipality the power to legislate cell phone bans for drivers. It could remove any provisions of texting law the currently prohibits the ordinances. The bill was proposed by Rep Anthony M. DeLuca.
Senate Bill no. 415 by Senator Jim Ferlo prohibits all drivers from using any communications devices that are handheld, including mobiles. Fine is still pegged at $50.
By the 5th of September, State Rep. Joseph Markosek will again present a ban on all state drivers’ use of handheld cell phone which is just the same cell phone bill as Markosek’s HB 580 of 2011 and similar to his HB 2070 of 2010. Markosek said he is aware of the repetition but he stated that this is the only way to make it stick.
The good state representative mentioned that around 58 people were killed on Pennsylvania roads last year due to more than 14,000 distracted driver crashes. Peoples’ hands must be on the wheels and they should keep their eyes focused on the road not on any kind of handheld devices.
Markosek was also a long-time member and later chairman of the House Transportation Committee where he served as chair of the House Appropriations Committee for the current legislative session. His bills are in conjunction with his legislative agenda to reduce distracted driving.
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