Proposal would ban driving while talking on a cell phone

Written by Ben Allen and Radio Pennsylvania | Apr 20, 2015 3:24 AM

(Harrisburg) -- Driving while talking on a cell phone could cost you if a proposal gets through the state Senate, the second time a midstate lawmaker is trying to pass this particular plan.

Under the proposal, police couldn't pull over a driver solely for making a call on their phone - it would be a secondary offense.

But it would come with a $50 fine for the first ticket, $100 the second time, and a $150 charge for each one after that.

The legislation from Senator Rob Teplitz of Dauphin County would carve out exceptions for emergency responders and those who use hands free devices.

Teplitz, a Democrat, says his bill provides adequate time to get the word out, too.

"Before the penalties would go into effect, the Department of Transportation would conduct a six month education campaign, so that people would know what to expect under the new rules," says Teplitz.

Citing statistics from the National Safety Council, Teplitz says drivers using handheld cell phones are four times as likely to crash as those who don't drive distracted.

It's already illegal in Pennsylvania to use a phone to send emails, texts or other messages while driving, and police can pull people over for such offenses alone.

The proposal last session never got out of a Senate committee, and the current bill is sitting in the same committee.

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