Distracted driving is a pervasive problem plaguing state governments nationwide. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that, in 2012, 421,000 people were involved in accidents caused by distracted driving. In 2015, distracted driving caused 14,800 crashes in Pennsylvania. While it is true that a Hands Free Driving Law does not exist on the books in Pennsylvania, there are serious penalties for people who text and drive. The two laws in place in Pennsylvania are the Texting While Driving Ban and Daniel’s Law.
Texting While Driving Ban
In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to send, read, or write a text based communication while the vehicle is in motion. This law encapsulates communications made via text, e-mail, or post on social media on a mobile device. Mobile devices include PDAs, laptops, smartphones, or a wireless phone. This law does not include GPS or a device that is physically or electronically embedded into the vehicle.
The penalty is a summary offense and $50 fine. The violation carries no point penalty, and will not appear on a non-commercial driver’s record. However, this violation is recorded on a commercial driver’s record as a non-sanction violation.
Signed into law on November 4, 2016, this law addresses fatalities caused by texting and driving. Drivers who text and cause a fatality receive a five year jail sentence. Drivers who text and cause bodily injury receive a two year jail sentence. The law was named for Daniel Gallatin. Daniel was killed in an automobile accident caused by a person who was texting and driving.
Answering or sending a text can be a life changing event. A text is not worth another person’s life, or your freedom. Avoid answering the phone until you have safely reached your destination. Happy driving!