Governor Tom Corbett recently approved a ban on the use of cell phones and text messaging while driving. This law will go into effect on March 8, 2012. Under SB 314, if you are caught by police text messaging while driving you will be subject to a $50 fine. However, this state law will supersede a stricter Philadelphia ordinance that bans all handheld cell phone use.
Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre and Erie also have banned cell phone use by drivers unless a hands-free device is in use. Once again, these local distracted driving laws apparently will become unenforceable once the statewide texting ban goes into effect in 2012. This means that handheld cell phone use will be legal throughout the state.
Critics of the new law worry that it will be unenforceable since using a phone for everything but texting will be allowed. The police will have no way of knowing whether a driver is texting or doing something else.
The law is intended to keep drivers aware of the road, and not their phones, in hopes of reducing the number of auto accidents each year. It’s important to remember to pay attention to the road, and not your phone, unless it is an emergency.