How a ban on driving and talking on a handheld phone could save lives

Last updated: 01-20-2020

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How a ban on driving and talking on a handheld phone could save lives

A bill making its way through the state legislature in Harrisburg would ban drivers in the state from using handheld devices while they're driving. The bill passed the state house on Wednesday, and now it will get a vote in the state Senate.

Under the bill, anyone older than 18 would only be allowed to make calls using bluetooth or speakerphone. Anyone under the age of 18 would only be allowed to use their GPS by bluetooth or some sort of mounted device.

Distracted drivers cause problems all over the country, and it's easy to see why.

According to Carinsurance.info, distracted driving is responsible for a quarter of police crash reports. That's because people who drive while on the phone are four times more likely to get into a crash, compared to those who don't. Also when driving on the phone, a driver's attention is reduced by 37%.

Additionally, using a cell phone while driving creates a major delay in reaction times, the equivalent of having blood alcohol level of 0.08%. That's the nationwide legal limit for a DUI or DWI conviction.

If you text while you drive, you're also 23% more likely to get into a crash.

Currently, Pennsylvania has no ban on talking on the phone while driving, though there is a ban on texting and driving: a $50 fine. However, experts say you're more likely to end up paying more than $100 when you factor in court costs, surcharges, and other additional fees.

In some circumstances, texting while driving can also lead to a reckless driving conviction, and if the crash leads to someone's death: a vehicular homicide conviction.

For the most part, though, texting violations won't add any points to your driver's license.

Hands-free driving laws around the nation usually vary from state to state.

In Texas, for example, there's no ban on using handheld phones, but school bus drivers are not allowed to use cell phones or text while driving if they have any passengers under the age of 17. New drivers are not allowed to use a cell phone or text while driving in their first year on the road.

In Vermont, there's no ban on using handheld devices, but there is a total ban on texting while driving that applies to all drivers. If you're a school bus driver, you're not allowed to use your phone, and new drivers are not allowed to use a phone if they're 18 or younger.

Other states, like Wisconsin and Wyoming have no ban on talking on the phone while driving for anyone. But Nobody is allowed to text and drive, either.

Out West, California has the most strict hands-free driving laws. The Golden State has a complete ban on texting and driving as well as a ban on using handheld devices while behind the wheel. There's also a ban on cell phone use for school bus drivers and new drivers who are less than 18 years old.

If the state House passes the bill and it's signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf, more younger drivers would be effected than older ones. Anyone younger than 18 could be pulled over if they're just using their cellphone, but anyone above that age could not.


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