The State House and Senate are each positioning distracted driving bills to ban the use of handheld cell phones and texting while driving. But, the key difference is enforcement. State Rep. Josh Shapiro (D-Montgomery) tells us that making it a primary offense will help to stop accidents from occurring in the first place, instead of just punishing drivers after the fact. A similar Senate bill would make this type of distracted driving a secondary offense – similar to PA’s seatbelt law. At this week’s Senate Transportation Committee meeting, State Senator John Wozniak (D-Cambria) said we can always ratchet up the law, but it’s difficult to ratchet it down.
Rep. Shapiro knows this enforcement issue will be the key battle when it comes down to negotiations between the House and Senate. HB8 was amended Wednesday evening, and could see final House votes later this month. SB314 was amended in committee, and now heads to the full Senate for consideration. The Senate Transportation Committee also advanced a contingency plan of sorts; SB635 would apply the distracted driving language only to junior drivers.