Pennsylvania defines distracted driving as anything that takes the driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving. This includes the driver taking their hands off of the steering wheel or their eyes off of the road. Some of these distractions include:
- Smoking, eating, or drinking
- Texting, talking, or emailing on a cell phone
- Interacting or talking with other passengers
- Searching for objects inside of the vehicle
- Writing or reading
- Applying makeup, doing hair, and other grooming activities
- Looking at a crash scene or a work zone
- Looking at objects, people, or other things that are located off of the roadway
Pennsylvania has a statewide ban on texting, which goes for drivers of all ages and all license statuses. The law specifically states that a driver is prohibited from using an Interactive Wireless Communication Device (IWCD). Drivers are not allowed to use an IWCD to read, write, or send text communications while the vehicle is in motion.
The following are considered an IWCD:
- Personal digital assistant
- Smart phone
- Wireless phone
- Portable or mobile computer
- Similar devices as listed above that can be used for instant messaging, texting, emailing, or browsing the Internet
Drivers of all ages are allowed to make phone calls while driving from a handheld or hands free device. The Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles recommends that drivers pull over to the side of the road if possible, use a hands free device, and do not talk about anything that can get emotionally heated.
A law enforcement officer can pull a driver over for violating the texting while driving law, as this is a primary law. This means no other traffic offense has to be involved for the driver to receive a ticket or citation for texting while driving.
- $50 for texting while driving
A study from the University of California, Berkley in 2012 found that in areas that ban handheld cell phones while driving, traffic deaths dropped 22 percent. Furthermore, drivers who caused deaths while using handheld cell phones were down by 47 percent. These statistics show just how big a distracting making a phone call can be.
It is illegal to text and drive in Pennsylvania; however, drivers of all ages are allowed to use handheld cell phones to make phone calls. It is recommended that drivers pull over to the side of the road and use caution when making these phone calls.