Pennsylvania Cell Phone Driving Laws, Explained

Pennsylvania does have distracted driving laws in place, though you should make the argument that these laws do not go far enough.

When it comes to distracted driving, every state has its own laws. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, 14 states ban all use of any handheld cellphone. Many others, like Pennsylvania, have a ban on texting alone. And still others have yet to prevent all drivers from engaging in some type of phone use while behind the wheel.

Here, we take a look at what Pennsylvania’s laws are as well as just how distracting certain behaviors may be. Even if there is no legislation preventing certain behaviors, people would be best served to avoid them.

Is it illegal to talk on the phone while driving in Pennsylvania?

Drivers in Pennsylvania are permitted to talk on the phone, either through a handheld or a hands-free device. However, no one is allowed to text while driving under distracted driving laws. This is a primary law, which means that law enforcement officers may pull over and ticket someone who is found texting while driving.

Talking on the phone or texting: Which is worse?

It is interesting that Pennsylvania has taken the steps to outlaw texting but not talking on the phone. Of course, the numbers do not lie: An article from Consumer Reports notes that one study found that texting has the highest risk of causing a crash when looking at cellphone-related activity.

However, this does not mean that talking on a phone is without risk. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety launched a study that assessed a number of cognitive distractions, including using a speech-to-text system, talking with a passenger and listening to the radio.

The findings included the following:

  • Speaking on handheld and hands-free devices had similar risks.
  • People talking on the phone took on roughly twice the workload that people listening to the radio had.
  • Even simply speaking with a passenger proved to be distracting.

Basically, any time that a driver’s focus is diverted from the road, the risk of getting into an accident increases.

By the numbers

It is hard to ignore the number of accidents, injuries and deaths that happen every year due to distracted driving. In Pennsylvania in 2014, 13,964 accidents had a distracted driver as a contributing factor, according to the Department of Transportation. Forty-nine fatal crashes involved a distracted driver that year.

This is an issue that should not be taken lightly. Although Pennsylvania law has not yet banned talking on the phone or other distractions, everyone should have the respect for themselves and others to avoid anything that causes them to lose focus while on the road.

When accidents do happen, people in Pennsylvania may seek legal recourse. Anyone who has questions about this topic should speak with a personal injury attorney.