PA House votes to ban the use of handheld phones

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The Pennsylvania House voted to ban the use of handheld phones for all drivers to make phone calls.

However, Inquirer.com reports that police would not be allowed to stop motorists for that reason alone. 

It was reported that representatives voted 120-74 to expand the current law, which already bans texting and prohibits handheld devices to make calls for drivers and truckers.  

Rep. Rosemary Brown, R-Monroe, is the main sponsor of this bill. She told outlets that she was disappointed that House amended the bill so police couldn’t stop handheld phone users. They made it a secondary offense, which could result in more severe penalties paired with other violations.  

Brown said that she voted for the bill and hopes to continue working on legislation as it goes to the senate.  

Inquirer.com reports that Minority Whip Jordan Harris, D-Philadelphia, voted for the bill. Harris spoke about how black drivers could be exposed to racial profiling if the language had not been amended to make it a violation. 

Whereas Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne, was not happy about the bill and stated it could result in more highway deaths because texting would be secondary. At the moment, the law lets officers pull over drivers who are allegedly texting. Some claim it does not happen enough because officers can’t always distinguish calling from texting in a vehicle. 

Carrol told outlets that, “This advances nothing, this makes things worse.” He also added that his in-laws were killed in a text-related crash in the Philly suburbs a few years ago. 

At the moment, the law hands out a $50 fine for texting while driving. The pending bill would up the fine to $150 for drivers who text or make calls while driving. 

The only exception would be 911 calls. 

The bill would also add driver’s education training for teens. 

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