Pennsylvania’s Texting While Driving Ban May Not Go Far Enough

Did you stop texting and driving after the ban in Pennsylvania went into effect this past March? If you are like many teen drivers who participated in a recent survey the answer is "No." The survey results raise questions about whether more needs to be done to prevent distracted driving in Pennsylvania.

The survey released by Bridgestone showed that while about 90 percent of Pennsylvania teen drivers are aware texting and driving is prohibited by law, almost 20 percent read texts while driving and over 15 percent type texts while driving.

One teen interviewed by CBS 21 attempted to explain the thinking of some of her peers on the issue, "They're like, it's just real quick, just one letter, ok, yeah or a question mark." She continued, "...They don't think anything about it until something happens to them."

Even just taking your eyes of the road for a few seconds to view a text or send a brief response can be deadly. When driving at highway speeds, in five seconds a car can travel more than the length of a football field. That is plenty of time for a serious accident to occur.

Although drivers of any age should avoid texting while driving, teens are particularly at risk for accidents due to their inexperience behind the wheel.

Enforcement of the Pennsylvania Texting Ban and Need for Changes

The effectiveness of the texting ban in discouraging distracted driving among all drivers is also questionable. Since March 8 th when the law took effect, police have only issued 52 citations statewide.

Although the law may have been a move in the right direction, many feel it is not tough enough. For instance, if a vehicle is not in motion a driver is still allowed to text. This includes being stopped in traffic or at a stop light.

Drivers are also not prohibited from doing other activities on their phones like making or receiving calls, browsing the Internet or using the GPS feature. This makes it difficult for law enforcement to determine if someone is breaking the law by texting or just using their mobile device for another purpose.

Legislators, law enforcement and others have been advocating for a broader ban that would prohibit all hand-held cellphone use while driving. Such a measure would likely be easier to enforce and may have more of an impact on changing driver behaviors.

Pennsylvania drivers, however, don't need to wait for a new law to choose not to drive distracted.