FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Bill Kortz
Distracted driving bill gains movement in House
HARRISBURG, June 28 – State Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, said a bill he authored to prohibit cell phone use while driving was voted out of the House Transportation Committee late last week.
"Distracted driving is a serious issue in Pennsylvania," Kortz said. "I've had personal experience with its effects – I was rear-ended by a young woman who was texting while driving. Fortunately, our incident was minor and we both left unharmed, but there have been too many cases that have ended more tragically."
House Bill 146 was authored to prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones, texting, and laptops in work zones only, but was amended in committee to fully outlaw the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Exemptions would apply for law enforcement, operators of emergency vehicles, people reporting an accident or emergency, people stopped at an intersection or due to traffic obstructions and in neutral or park and drivers using hands-free devices.
Violations would result in a $50 fine. It would not be considered a moving violation unless the offense involved an accident.
"This bill also would prohibit our young or inexperienced drivers – those with a learner's permit or junior driver's license from using a cell phone or other device while driving," Kortz said. "Violators would be committing a primary offense and also would result in a $50 fine."
Under this legislation, fines would be doubled in construction and maintenance areas, on highway safety corridors and in emergency response areas.
In addition, this bill creates a new offense for careless driving, which could be applied as an additional penalty if first convicted of distracted driving. If found to be distracted by a cell phone, electronic, electrical, mechanical, personal grooming device, food, drink, book or printed material, he or she will be sentenced to pay a fine of $50, in addition to any other penalty imposed.
Fines collected will be paid into a Driver Distraction Awareness Fund to establish an educational program to alert the public of the requirements and penalties of distracted driving.
The bill is expected to go before the full House for a vote this week.