Pennsylvania Taking Baby Steps On The Cell Phone Front…
By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq. on July 10th, 2009
Driving while texting: proposed Pa. law would levy $100 fine
Tired of seeing drivers texting from cellphones and PDAs while they’re behind the wheel of their cars, minivans and trucks?
So are we, as is every other rational person who doesn’t want to get hurt in a vehicle accident due to someone else’s carelessness.
Well, some good news came out of the Pennsylvania State Senate yesterday – a bill passed the Senate by a 44 to 3 vote to fine drivers $100 if they are caught texting as part of a more serious driving offense, according to a story in The Philadelphia Inquirer. The measure now goes on to the State House for action.
At least that’s a start.
But as good as that is, the fine is still too small at $100. Is that really much of a deterrent?
Will that small amount cause a texting driver to think twice? Is it enough of a deterrent to protect you and your family as you move around Philly on foot or in your car?
Yes, there are certainly more substantial legal actions that can be taken in the event of such injuries, and those are reasonable alternatives.
But here is a case where real penalties with sharper teeth — a more substantial fine and even a short jail term — could really take a bite out of the careless behavior of a driver who texts while their vehicle is in motion on our streets. Another good step would be to make the violation a primary offense – so they can be stopped by police and ticketed just for texting while driving.
Those penalties would add needed teeth, and make us all safer.
Back in May, our MyPhillyLawyer.com blog raised this very issue as we commented about the very real dangers of driving while talking or texting on cellphones and PDAs. The City of Philadelphia has been fighting for a tougher ban and even passed its own law previously, but was deterred by the state Legislature, which had rejected a statewide ban on cellphone use while driving. The city’s tougher law was quickly made moot due to threatened losses of millions of dollars in state road funding if the city law remained on the books. It was a losing fight for the city, but a good fight for residents.
Let’s hope the House also passes this latest measure regarding texting while driving, at least, and that both sides make it tougher before sending it on to Gov. Rendell.