Montgomery County's own Rep. Josh Shapiro is back again, pushing legislation to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving on all public roads in Pennsylvania.
Shapiro, a Democrat, held a presser this morning in the Capitol, reminding folks just how dangerous it is to drive while holding a cell-phone to your ear. Consider these two paragraphs from a press release Shapiro put out:
Studies from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Virginia Tech, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Utah have shown that drivers who talk on their cell phones are three to four times more like to be involved in a crash. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, hand-held cell phones contributed to 1,245 crashes on Pennsylvania roadways in 2007. In contrast, there were 56 crashes on the state’s roadways attributed to hands-free cell phones during the same year.
A study by the Public Policy Institute of California found that states that enacted hand-held cell phone bans while driving saw traffic fatalities decrease between 9 percent and 21 percent after the ban went into effect. With 1,491 traffic fatalities in Pennsylvania in 2007, a ban on hand-held cell phones could save up to 313 lives on the Commonwealth’s roadways. California, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Utah and Washington, and the District of Columbia have already enacted bans.
Shapiro's legislation includes exceptions for law enforcement officers, drivers of mass transit vehicles, operators of emergency vehicles when on duty, or motorists who are reporting a traffic accident or are making a 511 or 911 emergency call.
Violating the ban would be a primary offense -- meaning, you could get pulled over for talking on a hand-hell cell phone. If convicted, a person would be required to pay a $50 fine. However, no points would be assessed to a driver who violates the law.
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