Pennsylvania bans texting and driving, but is more needed?

Critics of Pennsylvania's current texting and driving ban say the law is too weak to be effective at deterring distracted driving.

Critics say current law is too weak and difficult for police to enforce

Pennsylvania, like most other states, prohibits texting while driving. However, according to the Express-Times, the current law is doing little to actually deter drivers from texting while behind the wheel. Because of the limited scope of the current law, police in Pennsylvania have handed out few texting-and-driving citations in comparison to neighboring states. That lack of effective enforcement means distracted drivers are largely going unpunished and continue to pose a car accident risk to themselves and other motorists. Those same critics say that in order to make Pennsylvania's roads and highways safer, a more comprehensive ban against cellphone use while driving is needed.

Texting and driving ban

The current law, which was passed three years ago, bans texting and driving, but not other cellphone activities while behind the wheel. Thus, motorists can legally punch in the numbers on their phone to call someone while driving, but they cannot write or send a text message. Understandably, for police who are tasked with enforcing the current law, it can be almost impossible to determine when a driver is typing in a number and when he or she is sending a text message.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that texting-and-driving citations are a relatively rare occurrence in Pennsylvania. In 2013, for example, police in the entire state handed out just 1,206 such citations, far below the 55,000 texting citations that were given out by police in New York in the same year.

Comprehensive ban

New York, unlike Pennsylvania, bans all use of a hand-held electronic device while driving, which makes the law much easier for police in that state to enforce. Critics of Pennsylvania's current law say a comprehensive ban on cellphone use while driving-including both texting and talking-is what is needed to improve safety on the state's roads. Distracted driving is quickly being recognized as one of the leading traffic dangers today, with one recent University of Utah study concluding that using a cellphone while driving is comparable to driving while impaired by alcohol. The AAA Foundation also estimates that distracted driving contributes to 5,000 deaths per year in the United States.

One bill currently before Pennsylvania legislators may go some way in helping to deter texting and driving. If passed, House Bill 853 would allow anybody convicted of killing or injuring a person because they were texting while driving of receiving five additional years on top of their sentence, according to ABC 27 News. The bill is designed to mirror current sentencing laws that are in place for drunk drivers who cause accidents that cause death or injury to another person.

Personal injury

Recovering from a car accident can be a difficult experience and those difficulties are often compounded by the fact that crash victims often lose time from work and are faced with mounting medical bills. A personal injury attorney should be contacted as soon after a crash as possible. In many cases, an experienced attorney may be able to help accident victims fight for the full compensation they may deserve and provide valuable legal advice that can be of great assistance during their recovery process.

Keywords: distracted, driving, accident, injury