Editor’s Note: There are several bills in the State Legislature the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia will be advocating for when legislative sessions begin again in the fall. We will be updating this blog routinely with information on the bills. We will let you know how you can help get these bills passed.
Texting and talking on the phone while driving a motor vehicle in Pennsylvania is illegal. But if you get a ticket for using your phone while driving, you get a $50 fine and little else.
This is a problem. Mostly because using a cell phone while driving is insanely dangerous, and $50 is of little consequence considering how dangerous using a cell phone behind the wheel is.
The National Safety Council has found that using a cell phone while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year in the United States, which is about one in four crashes. In fact, texting while driving makes you six times more likely to cause a crash than driving drunk!
And it’s not just texting or talking on a phone while driving. According to a 2015 AT&T survey, 27 percent of drivers age 16 to 65 report using Facebook while driving; 14 percent report using Twitter. Ten percent claim to use video chat while driving, 17 percent take selfies and 28 percent surf the web. Remember: These are just the people who openly admit it. The numbers may very well be higher.
Needless to say, such irresponsibility has the potential to make matters very bad for bicyclists and pedestrians using Pennsylvania’s streets for transportation.
That’s why we’re supporting House Bill 1684, which adds three points onto the driver’s licenses of those caught using a cell phone while driving.
This legislation, of course, probably doesn’t go far enough in preventing cell phone use while driving—especially given how many people are simply admitting to using their phones irresponsibly on a daily basis behind the wheel.
But we support this step in the right direction, either way. Read the bill here and contact your representative and ask them to support this legislation today.