Monday, January 25, 2010

PA House Passes Calling / Texting While Driving Ban

From the inbox:

Today the state House passed legislation, sponsored by state Rep. Josh Shapiro, D-Montgomery, to make Pennsylvania’s roads safer by banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Shapiro’s amendment to H.B. 2070 passed by a bi-partisan vote of 156-40.

House Bill 2070 bans text messaging for all drivers and cell phone use for novice drives. Shapiro’s amendment expands the legislation to include a ban on the use of hand-held cell phones for all drivers. Exceptions would be provided for law enforcement officers, drivers of mass transit vehicles, operators of emergency vehicles when on duty, and leeway would be provided for drivers to use a hand-held cell phone to report a traffic accident, or make a 911 emergency call.

“I am pleased with the bi-partisan support my amendment received in the House today,” said Shapiro. “Since I first introduced a bill to ban talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving I’ve received thousands of phone calls and emails from citizens all across Pennsylvania in support of my efforts. We will save lives and stop accidents from happening by disconnecting distracted drivers from their hand-held devices on Pennsylvania’s roadways.”

“Today, the House of Representatives voted by an impressive bi-partisan margin to join the ranks of other states to ban the dangerous practice of drivers using hand held cell phones to speak or text others. My constituents have expressed aggravation and frustration about the numerous occasions in which they were endangered by other drivers distracted from safe behavior because of the use of cell phones,” said Rep. Doug Reichley, R-Berks/Lehigh. “This is particularly true of teen drivers, whom studies have shown are most frequently involved in accidents arising from distracted driving. I am pleased to have joined with Representative Shapiro and many other members from both sides of the aisle to move Pennsylvania into column of states who wish to protect its citizens from dangerous distracted driving behavior.”

Studies from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Virginia Tech, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Utah have all shown that drivers who talk on their cell phones are three to four times more like to be involved in a crash. According to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation statistics, since 2003, there have been only 397 accidents in Pennsylvania were hands-free phone were a contributing factor, while 6,877 accidents listed hand-held phones as a contributing factor. Furthermore, a Quinnipiac University Poll released last March revealed that 85 percent of Pennsylvanians favor a ban on the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.

Shapiro has long advocated for a statewide ban on the use of hand-held cell phones while driving and first introduced this legislation in 2006. California, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Utah, Oregon and Washington, and the District of Columbia have already enacted bans on the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.

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