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Thursday, November 17, 2011
News Transportation

Fight for Cell Phone Driving Ban Continues

Restrictions on teen drivers have become law. The ban on texting while driving will be signed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett on Wednesday, but some lawmakers say there is still a lot of work to be done. 
(Ryan Harvey/Flickr)
Legislators would like to expand upon the texting ban, to include making calls on cell phones while driving as well.

Restrictions on teen drivers have become law. The ban on texting while driving will be signed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett on Wednesday, but some lawmakers say there is still a lot of work to be done. 

Pennsylvania State Representative Eugene DePasquale (D-York County) wants to make it illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving unless you are using a hands-free device.

I’ve never had an instance, I mean, where I know someone literally didn’t get some international peace agreement done because they weren’t able to make a call from a cell phone. If it’s that important, you can pull over and make the call,” said DePAsquale.

Such a ban was included in the Senate version of the anti-texting bill, but was stripped by the house.

It’s a bipartisan issue and it’s a common sense issue. And while the Republican leadership opposed it in the House of Representatives, I would expect that as they revisit the issue and look at it again with a fresh perspective, they’ll realize that including that in the final law and expanding the law is really the important thing for public safety here in Pennsylvania,” said Representative Josh Shapiro (D-Montgomery County). Shapiro is another of the Senate’s most outspoken backers of outlawing talking on handheld cell phones while behind the wheel.

The head of the Republican Party in the Pennsylvania House said that passing a handheld cell phone ban is still a priority. However, only a dozen more voting days remain this year, and lawmakers are still fighting over several major proposals, including a severance fee and drilling rules.

Barbara Harsha, head of the Governor’s Highway Safety Association which represents state highway safety offices, says that all of these policies on distracted driving are hard to enforce, and come with a price.  “There’s no new enforcement dollars for enforcing cell phone or texting bans,” said Harsha. “So the money for enforcement has to come out of money that might be used for drunk driving enforcement, seat belt enforcement, speed enforcement.”

Governor Corbett will sign the no-texting bill Wednesday at a cell phone store in Camp Hill, PA.

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