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Does Pennsylvania Ban Texting and Driving?


Distracted driving represents a serious public health concern. Smartphone use and other diversions caused 2,841 auto accident deaths in 2018 alone according to data from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration.

Pennsylvania drivers should abide by the state’s texting and driving laws to help prevent catastrophic collisions.

Prohibited actions

Motorists on Pennsylvania roads may not use any kind of interactive wireless communication device behind the wheel. The state defines a so-called IWCD as a laptop, portable computer, smartphone, personal digital assistant or any other wireless device.

The law prohibits drivers from composing, sending or reading any messages on an IWCD while the car is in motion. This includes email messages, text messages, instant messages, social media posts and other forms of electronic communication.

Exceptions to the ban

Pennsylvania allows drivers to use GPS devices for navigation and electronic devices integrated within the vehicle (an infotainment screen, for example). Drivers ages 18 and older can also make and receive calls on an electronic device when using a hands-free headset.

While the state law focuses on texting, other distractions can also be dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that anything that takes your attention off the road raises the risk for a crash, including eating, navigating to your location, selecting music, putting on makeup, looking at scenery, talking on the phone and conversing with other passengers.

Drivers who violate this law receive a $50 fine. In addition, when a distracted driver causes an auto accident, he or she has legal responsibility for serious injuries that occur.