Pennsylvania Text Messaging and Cell Phone Laws

The state of Pennsylvania does not prohibit use of handheld cell phones for drivers. (It is estimated that 10% of the more than 10,000 annual distracted driving crashes in Pennsylvania are the result of handheld cellular phone use.)

Cell Phone Use

The state of Pennsylvania does not prohibit the use of handheld cell phones. Previously, several localities within Pennsylvania including Philadelphia, Erie, Harrisburg and Wilkes-Barre, prohibited handheld cell phones. However, in March 2012 a new statewide texting law superseded (and terminated) local ordinances.

Texting Laws

All Pennsylvania drivers are prohibited from texting while driving. The new texting law prohibits use of an Interactive Wireless Communication Device (IWCD) “to send, read or write a text-based message.” An IWCD can be a wireless phone, personal digital assistant, smart phone, portable or mobile computer or similar devices that can be used for texting, instant messaging, emailing or browsing the Internet. A text-based message is defined as a text message, instant message, email or other written communication composed or received on an IWCD.

Does a Ban on Handheld Cell Phone Reduce Injuries?

In March, 2012, the University of California, Berkeley, released the first study specifically detailing the effect of a handheld cell phone ban on driving. The study analyzed California driving accidents during the first four years in which California’s handheld ban had been in place.

The study found that (1) overall traffic deaths dropped 22%, (2) deaths blamed on drivers using hand-held cellphones were down 47%, and (3) deaths among drivers who use hands-free phones dropped at a similar rate. There was a similar drop in the number of physical injuries. Equally important, the ban had resulted in less use of cell phones during driving.

Bus Drivers

Bus drivers are prohibited from texting.

How is it Enforced?

The fine for violating Pennsylvania’s texting laws is $50. Pennsylvania’s texting law is categorized as a “primary” law. A primary law means that an officer can pull you over for the offense without having to witness some other violation. That is, the officer sees you texting and issues a citation.

Other Pennsylvania Information

Follow the links below to get additional information found on this website regarding Pennsylvania driving laws.

Talk to a Traffic Ticket attorney.

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