In the last few years, many states—including Maryland, New Jersey and New York—have been cracking down harder on drivers using cellphones while behind the wheel. In fact, those states now ban drivers from even having a cellphone in their hands: they instead must use hands-free technology and get their GPS units programmed before starting their route.
Twenty other states already have adopted a no-handheld-phone-use behind the wheel stance because in 2017, more than 3,100 people were killed in distracted driving accidents, about 10% of all crash fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Also, about 1 in 4 teen drivers admit to typing or receiving a text message within the last month.
In Pennsylvania, the law is a little less stringent—for now. Currently, drivers are banned only from texting or emailing behind the wheel and from reading received texts or instant messages. So, motorists are free use cellphone navigation tools or even snap a selfie while driving.
Also, the fine for distracted driving is $50, plus court costs. That’s very minimal compared to what distracted drivers face in New Jersey. There, being cited for distracted driving is a $200-$400 fine for a first-time offense, and by a third offense, you face an $800 fine and possible license suspension.
However, in last year’s legislative session, a law banning handheld phone use by drivers was introduced, as several law enforcement officials say only citing those texting behind the wheel is very hard to enforce.
Removing temptation for distracted driving
The best way to avoid using your cellphone behind the wheel is to turn the phone off and place it out of reach. You can also do one of the following:
- Download an app that locks the phone.
- Have someone in the car serve as the navigator if you are using your phone as a GPS unit.
- Finish eating, drinking or grooming before you start driving, as those are all forms of distracted driving too.
- Teach your teens the dangers of distracted driving and let them know they can call you out or stop a friend from using the phone while driving.
Getting in a distracted driving accident can leave you or someone you love severely injured. Taking the time to cut out extra distractions is the best way to prevent that and ensure everyone arrives to their destination safely.