Schlossberg votes to expand ban on handheld devices while driving

HARRISBURG, April 10 – Rep. Mike Schlossberg applauded state House passage of legislation that would expand Pennsylvania’s ban on heldheld devices while driving.

“When I was a member of Allentown City Council, the first piece of legislation I introduced looked very similar to this,” said Schlossberg, D-Lehigh. “We passed that bill, but the brakes were immediately slammed on the effort as it became clear only state law could make such a ban. When the Senate concurs and Gov. Shapiro signs this legislation, Pennsylvania’s roads will be safer, and Allentown’s prior efforts are proven to be worthwhile.”  

Senate Bill 37 would take steps to ban the use of handheld cell phones and other similar devices while driving a vehicle. It would make exceptions for certain devices, hands-free use, emergency notification purposes, use for emergency response and items exempt under certain federal laws. Unauthorized use would face a $50 fine.

“Handheld devices provide more and more opportunities to view content and distract drivers with accidents being the result. I’ve been rear-ended by somebody on Route 22 who was looking down at her phone while we were in heavy traffic. A member of my staff, with a baby in the car, was rear-ended by somebody who didn’t stop at a stop light because the other driver was texting,” said Schlossberg. “Those are personal stories and thankfully nobody was hurt.”

Schlossberg noted that his interest in the area largely started because of the tragic story of Jacy Good, a college classmate of his who nearly died in a car accident – caused by a distracted driver – that took the life of her parents on the day that she graduated from college.

Schlossberg said one in eight fatal crashes involve a distracted driver and about half of those fatalities are not the distracted driver, meaning somebody else is paying for that irresponsibility. Estimates show that distracted driving accidents cost the American economy $100 billion in lost productivity, legal and court costs, emergency and medical costs, lost time on roadways and property damage.

“Thanks to hands-free technology, there are many ways to use GPS, make emergency phone calls, or even listen to music safely,” said Schlossberg. “I know we live in a world of rapid communication, but keeping our roads safe is a critical responsibility and I am glad Pennsylvania is finally moving to take these steps.”  

Pennsylvania would join numerous other states in putting these important safety measures in place:

  • 27 states and the District of Columbia have banned drivers from handheld phone use while driving.
  • 49 states have banned texting while driving for all drivers.
  • 36 states and the District of Columbia prohibit all cell phone use by novice drivers.
  • 18 states and the District of Columbia prohibit school bus drivers from cell phone use while driving.