Consequences of Using Your Cell Phone While Driving in Pennsylvania

If you’re pulled over for sending or reading a text on your cell phone while driving in Philadelphia, you’re looking at an automatic $50 fine, court costs, and other fees. 

Charges for violations like these usually trigger a hike in your insurance premiums as well. 

For commercial drivers, being caught texting behind the wheel will be recorded on your records. That could greatly affect your ability to continue to drive to earn a living. 

Can I Use My Cell Phone at All on Pennsylvania Roads?

Currently, you can talk on your cell phone in the Keystone State while behind the wheel – either with a handheld or hands-free device. 

We place emphasis on the word “currently” because a lawmaker has introduced a bill that would make it illegal to even hold your cell phone while driving. 

Here’s some of what’s included in that bill.

  • You would not be able to hold your cell phone while driving even if you’re using a GPS app. Right now, you’re allowed to hold your cell phone while driving to use the GPS function. If the new law passes, your cell phone will need to be attached to a surface, like your dashboard or windshield.
  • Increased fines. The proposed bill calls for a raising the fine for using your cell phone while driving from $50 to $200.
  • Drivers younger than 18 won’t be able to use their cell phone at all in the vehicle. Even if the car is stopped, a teen driver younger than 18 can’t use their cell phone. 

We’ll certainly keep our eyes on the progress of this proposed bill and will keep you posted as it makes its way through the legal process.

Is Using My Cell Phone While Driving Really That Dangerous?

It sure is. Each year in the U.S., there are more than 3,000 fatal crashes caused directly by distracted driving.

Just think about the things most people automatically do when using their cell phone – either by texting or talking.

  • They look away from the road, even if just for a moment.
  • Their hands are often taken off the wheel.
  • Their concentration is broken the moment the text alert or ring tone sounds. 

Examples of distracted driving go much further than talking and texting on your cell phone, though. Other common distractions that often lead to accidents include:

  • Using your GPS system
  • Adjusting the radio dial
  • Eating and drinking
  • Turning your head to talk to passengers in the car (in many cases, accidents are caused by parents turning their heads to talk with their children in a child seat) 

The very real dangers of distracted driving are hammered home when you realize that every day in the U.S., about nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured by distracted drivers – in just one day.

Why Is it Legal to Talk but Not Text on My Cell Phone While Driving?

Although talking and texting while driving are both dangerous, the potential consequences of using your cell phone while driving in Pennsylvania are steeper for texting.

For example, texting while driving immediately makes you 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident.

That startling revelation is based on the fact that sending or reading a text takes about 4.6 seconds.

Let’s put that in perspective. 

If you’re driving 55 mph, you will have travelled at least 100 yards – that’s the same size of the Penn State football field at Beaver Stadium – during the time you read a text. Even more disturbing is the fact that you would have travelled that entire distance while not even looking at the road. 

With the average car weighing well over two tons (2,870 pounds), just imagine the damage that could be caused if your focus isn’t fully on the road ahead of you. The potential damage and injuries from such carelessness can be staggering. 

How Can I Avoid Distracted Driving?

We understand that old habits can be hard to break, but the quicker you get into a “new routine” with your cell phone use behind the wheel the better.

Here are a few tips to get you into a new habit.

  • Only use your cell phone for emergency calls. Even then, it’s best to pull over to the side of the road to make or take a call or text.
  • Use the “Do Not Disturb” function on your cell phone. You should be able to do this in the “Settings” menu.
  • Install an app that will prevent texts or calls from being made or received while the car is in motion. There are free apps available for Android, iPhones, and other cell phone types.

Remember, the sole goal of driving should be to get you and your passengers safely to your destination. Your entire focus should be on the road ahead of you and the drivers around you. 


Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC
123 S Broad St #1220
Philadelphia, PA 19109
(215) 875-7030