LOGAN TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WTAJ) — Last week, the State House passed a bill to ban the use of hand-held phones for all drivers. If passed, the law could also make it more difficult to catch offenders.
Right now, police can pull over a driver they see texting behind the wheel.
One local chief said he’s concerned this new bill, could ultimately increase injuries and deaths caused by distracted driving.
“We wanna make sure that a simple text doesn’t result in a fatality for you and the tragedy that would cause a family,” Logan Township Police Chief David Reese said.
Currently in Pennsylvania, a cellphone must be attached or plugged into a car, and police can pull a driver over if they are seen texting, not calling, which Reese said can be difficult to distinguish.
“When you’re texting, it takes your eyes off the road, it takes your hands off the wheel, and it takes your focus off of safe driving,” Reese said.
If this new bill is signed into law, texting while driving would be made a secondary offense. This means officers won’t be able to fine a driver just for using their phones. There would need to be another violation, such as speeding or careless driving.
“Currently, as you know, the rates for injuries are pretty high for texting and driving,” Reese said.
According to the CDC, nearly nine people are killed everyday in the US from a distracted driving accident and more than 1,000 are injured.
“If you know someone’s driving and you know you don’t wanna distract them, don’t send a text,” Reese said.
Chief Reese said his department is always aggressive when enforcing traffic laws, adding that their main job is keeping the number of crashes, injuries, and deaths as low as possible.
“Not just investigating crimes and keeping the peace. It’s making sure that our highways are safe here in Logan Township,” he said.
The bill is still being reviewed by the State Senate. If passed, the fine would be increased from the current $50 to $150.