HARRISBURG,– State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown voted for a bill that passed the House of Representatives that would make it a primary offense for motorists in Pennsylvania to use handheld mobile phones to make calls or text while driving, punishable by a $50 fine.
“There have been numerous studies that show using a cell phone while driving has the same effect as driving drunk,” said Lowery Brown, D-Phila. “When you are driving a 4,000-pound vehicle, you need to pay attention.”
California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington have banned hand-held cell phones for drivers. No state completely bans all types of cell phone use for drivers. Nineteen states ban text messaging while driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
House Bill 2070 would ban all handheld use of mobile phones, smart phones, personal digital assistants or portable computers while the vehicle is in motion, with the exception of devices being used exclusively as global positioning or navigation systems, or devices that are permanently installed in the vehicle.
Exceptions to the ban would include situations where the vehicle is at a complete stop and the vehicle’s transmission is shifted to neutral or park, drivers calling 911 or the use of hands-free mobile phones, including dialing. The $50 fine would be doubled to $100 if the infraction took place in a school zone, active work zone, highway safety corridor or emergency response area.
The bill would supersede all local legislation that addresses the issue of distracted driving, including one in Philadelphia that bans cell phone use by drivers.