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Lawmakers to Consider Phone Ban for Drivers

State Rep. Joseph Markosek, D-Allegheny, announced Thursday that he plans to introduce a bill that would ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.

By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent

HARRISBURG — Driving while using a cell phone or other hand-held device could be prohibited in Pennsylvania.

House Appropriations Minority Chairman Rep. Joseph Markosek, D-Allegheny, announced Thursday that he plans to introduce this proposed ban in the fall.

Barry Ciccocioppo, Markosek’s communications director, said the ban is being introduced to help police enforce the current ban on texting while driving.

“Somebody can have a phone in their hand and say they weren’t texting, they were dialing a number,” he said.

The bill has not yet been circulated for co-sponsorship, but does have support within the Democratic caucus, Ciccocioppo said.

Drivers caught using phones would be fined $50, or $100 if driving in a school zone, work zone or highway safety corridor, said Ciccocioppo, according to current draft legislation.

Exceptions to the ban would include drivers using a GPS device.

When Pennsylvania passed its texting-while-driving ban in 2011, some legislators called it over-regulating, while others said it wouldn’t solve the problem.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which studies the nation’s roads, examined states that ban drivers from using hand-held devices to determine if the ban influences driver behavior. It found that driver hand-held phone use was an estimated 24 percent to 76 percent lower in states with the ban than in states without a ban, like New York and Connecticut.

But it also concludes there’s no evidence to show that banning such behavior reduces crashes.

“It’s not clear why bans are not reducing crashes despite reductions in hand-held phone use and texting while driving,” says IIHS on its website. “Further research is needed in order to fully understand this disparity.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation estimates that 58 people were killed last year in more than 14,000 distracted-driving car crashes.

If the law passes, Pennsylvania would join 10 other states with similar bans, including New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Maryland.

Jim September 08, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Just another way to take taxpayer money. If someone is observed driving recklessly they can be stopped and ticketed regardless of cellphone use. Don't have anything better to do?
marty smith September 09, 2012 at 09:14 AM
I always see police using cell-phones while driving, whats up with that?
Julia B September 09, 2012 at 11:36 AM
This is the most ridiculous thing I've heard yet. If they ban cell phones, I also want McDonalds, Starbucks, newspapers, makeup and children banned from vehicles. In fact, there should only be one passenger per car so there's no chance of distraction. And forget the GPS. Ban that too. We'll just all say we were using that.
Andrew Berezin September 09, 2012 at 11:59 AM
How about everyone buy a hands free device and stop complaining. Its simple. HANDS FREE Device!!! People talk on the phone in a car more then drinking coffee or eating. I don't know how many people I have seen drive thru stop signs, can't make turns etc because they are talking on there phone. They just want to ban the use of you holding the phone not using the phone with a hands free device.
marty smith September 09, 2012 at 12:15 PM
I think that anyone who doesn't use a cell-phone while driving should be given a discount on their auto insurance and auto registration? Tolls too?
Jeanette Herring Corcoran September 09, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Well said, Andrew!
Marc September 09, 2012 at 02:05 PM
FINALLY!!! Any distraction can be fatal while driving; what is so important that some people HAVE TO be on the phone? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTaZX3NEkRk Seeing a scenario like this makes you realize how extremely dangerous a distraction can be, and what devastating consequences it can have.
 Watch it, and when you think about using a cell phone while driving, watch it again .
Gerry Couch September 09, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Tough to enforce , now that GPS is on phone as well! Concerned ends up being selective prosecution!
Marc September 09, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Do you often hold a GPS to your ear and talk into it? I think the cops will know the difference...
Marc September 09, 2012 at 02:49 PM
No, the other way: anyone who does use a cell-phone while driving should pay triple!
K. Thom. September 09, 2012 at 08:24 PM
More laws and regulations please. Even though I grew up and moved out of my parents home I still need someone to tell me what I can and can't do. Could you please dress me as well. Oh oh and I need someone to hold my hand while I cross the street, only in a crosswalk of course wouldn't want to jay walk.
K. Thom. September 09, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Lets stop people from talking to other people in the car. How many times do I have to see drivers turning their head to talk to someone next to them or behind them. We also should stop people from eating or drinking in the car. Better yet lets just mandate that only people with common sense be allowed to drive and then just leave the rest of alone
Liberty 1 September 11, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Leave it to a dem to restrict and fine. As much as I despise people who talk on the phone while driving I despise more the government who wants to take advantage. I drive for a living and see a lot of idiots on the road -not all are on a phone. Hands free is not the answer either. By having a conversation you are distracted it is not holding a phone that is the problem.
Bob September 19, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Can a passenger call 911 to report violators in other cars?

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