A new law bans the use of handheld cell phones while driving the streets of Philadelphia. The bill signed by Mayor Mike Nutter prohibits talking, dialing or texting on a handheld device while driving a motor vehicle. It also prohibits the activities while on a bicycle, scooter, in-line skates or skateboard.
The fine for a first offense is $150; second-time offenders will be fined $300.
Statistics show use of cell phones makes driving more dangerous. A 2006 study found that the distraction of a mobile phone makes drivers more collision-prone than having a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent (the level at which a driver is legally drunk). A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study found that drivers were 2.8 times more likely to have a collision while dialing a phone, and 1.3 times more likely to have a collision while talking on the phone, compared to drivers having no distractions.
The NHTSA says between 20 percent and 30 percent of all accidents are caused by distracted drivers. The agency also says cell phone use is now the leading cause of driving distraction.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll, Pennsylvania voters support the ban of handheld cell phone use while driving by 85 percent to 13 percent. Even cell phone users, who comprise 79 percent of voters, support the ban 85 percent to 13 percent.
The cell phone use ban takes effect November 1, 2009.
On the same day Mayor Nutter signed the cell phone law, Philadelphia police reported that a driver talking on a cell phone ran a red light, causing a city bus to run into several parked cars and a steel beam. Sixteen people, including a young child, were injured in the accident.
After a motor vehicle or pedestrian accident, whether it involves cell phone use or not, you should immediately call the police. Then see a doctor about any possible injuries caused by the accident. An accident injury attorney can help determine if you have a claim against the other driver.
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