According to records kept by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts and police, there were roughly 900 citations issued to motorists under Pennsylvania’s new “no texting while driving” law during the first eight months of the texting ban.
And while there is little question as to why the texting law was passed ― namely, to make the roads safer and curb distracted driving car accidents ― many police officers are finding the new law difficult to enforce.
This difficulty in enforcing the law stems from the fact that it does not forbid motorists from using their cellphones to make phone calls while driving ― it only prohibits motorists from using their cellphone, or other interactive wireless communications device, to read, write or send any text-based communication while driving, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
For instance, even in situations in which police witness the driver typing into their cellphone, the driver often says they were simply entering in a phone number to make a call ― which is not illegal. Consequently, some state judges have had to dismiss texting while driving cases due to the lack of evidence proving that the driver was actually texting and not making a phone call.
Fortunately for the courts, most drivers cited for texting while driving simply pay their tickets since the fine is only $50, but, that hasn’t deterred some lawmakers from calling for a complete handheld device ban while driving.
According to a statement to the Associated Press, State Rep. Joe Markosek believes the current texting ban is “certainly a watered-down version” of the law that was originally proposed. Markosek hopes to introduce a bill next legislative session that create a ban on all handheld devices while driving ― a bill that would still permit hands-free cellphone use.
If a complete ban on handheld devices is ever passed, it would not only increase road safety in Pennsylvania but it would theoretically be much easier for police to enforce than the current law.
It remains to be seen whether or not a complete handheld device ban would ever gain any traction in the legislature, but what is certain is that thoughtless drivers will continue to text while behind the wheel ― putting everyone else on the road at risk of injury in the process. If you have been injured by one of these thoughtless drivers, it is important to speak with an experienced distracted driver accident attorney to be advised of your rights and options given your circumstances.