distracted driving

What Are Pennsylvania’s Distracted Driving Laws?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2019 alone. Far more people suffered injuries due to distracted driving on top of this staggering number of fatalities. States have finally realized just how dangerous distracted driving can be and enacted laws accordingly. Here, we will go through Pennsylvania’s distracted driving laws.

What Are Pennsylvania’s Distracted Driving Laws?

Driving while distracted means that a driver has taken their full attention away from the road, whether it be eyes, hands, or mental focus. Common driver distractions include:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Smoking
  • Adjusting music or audiobooks
  • Talking with other passengers
  • Looking for an item in the vehicle
  • Hair brushing and makeup application

Pennsylvania’s distracted driving laws, however, only pertain to one main form of distraction for drivers across the state. This distraction is the cell phone. The law is actually broader than simply referencing a cell phone. In fact, the exact wording in Pennsylvania’s distracted driving law restricts motorists using an “interactive wireless communication device” to write, send, read a text communication while driving. This means that, likely, not just cellphones are included in the ban. It could also extend to tablets and other wireless devices that can be used for text-based messaging. It should be noted that the written communications ban under Pennsylvania’s distracted driving law does not include using a GPS device which is physically integrated into the vehicle.

You will also notice that the law references “text-based messaging.” This means that it includes more than a ban on texting while driving. Pursuant to the state’s distracted driving law, emails, and instant messages, among other written communications composed on a wireless device are also included. There is no ban or restrictions on talking on a phone while driving. Some states have banned use of handheld devices while driving and drivers must, therefore, use hands-free or Bluetooth devices if they want to talk on the phone while driving.

There are fines associated with Pennsylvania’s distracted driving law. It is a summary offense that comes with a $50 fine. The driver found in violation of the law, however, usually ends up paying over $100 due to court costs and additional fees. Violators do not get points assigned to their driving records and the violation will not be added to their record at all. For commercial drivers, however, it is recorded as a non-sanction violation.

On top of fines, drivers cited for distracted driving may also be convicted of reckless driving. Furthermore, if distracted driving caused a fatal accident, then the violator could also be charged with homicide by vehicle. If distracted driving led to an accident that led to injury or even death, the driver could also be held civilly liable for any damages that result from the accident. This means that the driver, or the driver’s insurance company, may be held responsible for paying for the medical bills, lost wages, and other damages incurred by victims of the accident.

Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys

If you have been injured in an accident caused by distracted driving? You are not alone. The dedicated personal injury attorneys at Cooper, Schall & Levy. Contact us today.