A new law, to be proposed this fall in Pennsylvania could prohibit drivers from using hand-held devices on the road due to potential distractions.
House Appropriations Minority Chairman Rep. Joseph Markosek, D- Allegheny/Westmoreland, said he plans on proposing a bill this fall that will not allow drivers to use cell phones or other hand-held devices while on the road.
Steps were taken in 2011 to help eliminate distractions drivers had on the road due to texting and driving after Gov. Tom Corbett approved a distracted driving bill.The law went into effect in March 2012, as previously reported.
Communications Director of Pennsylvania House Appropriations Committee Barry Ciccocioppo said Markosek plans to introduce the ban after house representatives go back into session next week.
Under the proposed bill, drivers found committing the offense will have to pay a $50 fine or $100 fine if driving in an active school or work zone, Ciccocioppo said.
“If they get caught one time, it will hopefully be enough,” he said.
Ciccocioppo said the ban on texting and driving that went into effect earlier this year was a step in the right direction.
However, Ciccocioppo said it can be a difficult task for police officers to tell when people are using their cell phones for other purposes besides texting.
The bill will enforce drivers to keep their hands free and use methods like headset devices in order to receive and make outgoing calls, Ciccocioppo said.
“More importantly, the bill will require [the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation] to develop a public education campaign,” he said.
The campaign will help educate drivers on the dangers of driving while using phones, Ciccocioppo said.
Senator Jake Corman, R-Centre, said due to the recent passing of the texting and driving ban, there should be some time dedicated to observing the law before the passing of a new one.
He said he sees the law as “an important component to reducing the amount of people” who text and drive.
“People will continue to use their cell phones until there is a law that prohibits them,” Corman said.
He said he does not think laws about drivers using hand-held devices or phones will be revisited for a while.
Regardless of whether or not the law is passed, people will continue using their cell phones, Haralambos Athanasiadis (junior-economics) said.
“Sometimes there are emergencies that require people to use their cell phones on the road,” he said. “People have to be aware of their surroundings no matter where they are driving.”
Ishara Pinkney-Lee (senior-psychology) said the ban placed on driving and texting should be enough to keep drivers away from using their hand-held devices.
She said that with the help of new technological advances, drivers are able to speak into their phones instead of using their hands.
Pinkney-Lee said first offense drivers caught breaking the proposed law should be let go with a warning, but drivers who commit multiple offenses should have to pay a penalty.
She said in places like State College, people don’t always look both ways before crossing the road, especially on busy roads and intersections.
“If you’re texting and looking at your phone while driving, and someone jaywalks, you can get yourself into a bad situation,” Pinkney-Lee said.