The number of drivers killed in vehicle collisions during the last year declined by just two. This comes despite the fact that Pennsylvania police handed out more than 1,300 citations to drivers who violated the texting while driving law.
In Pennsylvania texting while driving is a primary offense, which police can pull a driver over and issue a citation if they see someone violating the law, but trying to enforce the law has been difficult. Drivers are prohibited specifically from sending and reading text messages only while the vehicle is in motion. They are not prohibited from using their handheld device for myriad other uses including scrolling through messages, talking on the phone or looking at photos. Police are also not empowered to confiscate the devices to examine them and see exactly what the driver was doing at the time. They can issue a citation, but not much else.
There is also some question about whether or not these citations are standing up in court. Prosecutors have no way of proving a drivers was not doing something other than texting while driving when they received the citation, which leaves the door wide open for their defense to be “I was checking the time” or “I was just checking the weather.”
There is no move to repeal the Pennsylvania texting while driving ban, and so far no attempts to expand the law as it stands right now. So far the state is just noting the data collected during the first year of enforcement to get an idea of where they stand, and starting to collect data on the second year of enforcement.