Goldstein, Heslop, Steele, Clapper, Oswalt & Smith

Why is the texting while driving law so difficult to enforce?

As a driver, keeping your eyes on the road should be a no-brainer. In truth, however, modern life has made it exceedingly easy to become distracted behind the wheel. With advanced dash consoles and smartphones, drivers have so much to see at their fingertips that can easily avert their eyes from the road before.

Still, texting remains the biggest reason for distracted driving, and for its part, Pennsylvania has a law in place that forbids this behavior. However, some have said the law is almost unenforceable. So why is this law, for all its good intentions, so seemingly toothless?

What all does the law entail?

Pennsylvania's texting while driving ban aims to curb what has become the state's leading cause of accidents. As the law is currently written, drivers are barred from using an interactive wireless communication device (IWCD) to read, write or send text messages while moving in their vehicle.

Some of the law's further nuts and bolts include:

  • A $50 fine for drivers who violate the law.
  • Text-based communications such as text messages, emails and instant messages are all included in the ban.
  • An IWCD can be any device that sends or receives written communications, meaning that tablets and personal digital assistants are also on the table.

A major loophole

So why does a law that covers so many devices and forms of communication struggle to take a meaningful effect in the real world? Because drivers do not have to give up their device without a warrant from the officer.

The Pennsylvania law is not without other blemishes either, as it fails to cover distractions such as looking up a phone number or even surfing the internet.

Though it currently seems incomplete, some Pennsylvania lawmakers are pushing to reshape the texting while driving law. With several states having already banned drivers from using handheld phones in vehicles altogether, it is possible that the law will change in the future.

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