Pennsylvania's Cell Phone Driving Rules and Regulations

Talking on a cell phone while driving can cause you to become distracted easily, leading to what may be a serious accident. In fact, the use of cellular phones while driving, both in Pennsylvania and in the United States as a whole, has caused many traffic accidents in recent years. Several cell phone-related traffic accidents in Pennsylvania have resulted in fatalities and very serious injuries. As a result of the grim statistics regarding traffic accidents caused by cell phone use, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) now enforces a collection of legal regulations designed to reduce cell phone use while driving. If you intend to drive a vehicle within Pennsylvania's state lines, you must abide by the established cell phone driving regulations. If you fail to follow PA cell phone driving laws you will have to pay fines for each violation. Below is a list of the Pennsylvania's cell phone driving rules and regulations, as well as how they are enforced.

Pennsylvania Commercial Driving Cell Phone Rules

If you intend to drive a commercial vehicle in Pennsylvania, you must avoid using a hand-held cell phone at all while you are driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established a law banning commercial drivers from using hand-held cellular phones while operating their commercial vehicles, and the ban is enforced throughout the state of Pennsylvania.

Under the commercial driving cell phone use ban, you will be forbidden from calling anyone on the phone or answering your phone, as well as texting or reading texts while driving. However, you may use a phone to make or receive a call as long as you use hands-free technology to do so. You may also use functions of your cellular phone that only require you to push one button, such as speed dialing. However, you must talk on the phone using hands-free technology.

Under certain circumstances, you will not be required to adhere to the cell phone use ban while driving a commercial vehicle. For example, if you are driving a commercial vehicle in Pennsylvania, you may use your cell phone while driving if you need to contact the police or emergency personnel of any kind. Making calls on your cell phone while your vehicle is stopped or parked in a safe place is also legal.

Talking on a Cell Phone While Driving a Passenger Vehicle in Pennsylvania

When you are driving a standard passenger vehicle in Pennsylvania, you may not have to adhere to the same cell phone ban that applies to commercial drivers. As of 2017, it is legal for you to use a hand-held cellular phone to make or receive calls while driving a non-commercial vehicle anywhere in the state of Pennsylvania. However, if you choose to talk on your cell phone while driving your passenger vehicle, then your chances of becoming involved in a traffic accident will increase because you will be more distracted from the task at hand. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), your crash risk will be approximately 1.3 times greater when you are talking on your cellular phone than it would otherwise be.

As the driver of a passenger vehicle, you must also understand that laws related to using your cell phone while driving are subject to change. A bill was introduced in 2017 in an effort to ban all cellular phone use by Pennsylvania drivers. If the bill passes, then talking on your cell phone while driving in Pennsylvania will become illegal, even if you are not a commercial driver.

Pennsylvania Ban on Texting While Driving

There is a statewide ban on texting while driving in Pennsylvania. The ban went into effect on October 8, 2012. Under the law, you may not use a cell phone to receive, read or send text messages while you are driving. It is also unlawful for you to use your cell phone to look at websites or send emails while driving on public roadways in Pennsylvania.

If you are considering using a different device to send or receive messages while driving, you must not do so. The Pennsylvania ban on texting while driving is worded in such a way that the law bans the use of all types of interactive wireless communication devices (IWCDs) while driving. Examples of other IWCDs besides cell phones include laptops and personal digital assistants of any type.

The Pennsylvania ban on texting while driving does not apply if your vehicle is parked. You also may not be penalized for using hands-free technology to communicate while driving or using your cellular phone for GPS purposes as long as you are doing so in a hands-free way. Additionally, you may use your cellular phone at any time to report an emergency while driving.

How Pennsylvania Cell Phone Laws Are Enforced

Under Pennsylvania law, a police officer can pull you over for violating any rule relating to cellular phone use while driving. The police officer does not need a separate excuse to pull you over. If you are found to be in violation of one or more of the laws regulating cell phone use while, you will have to pay a fine. You may also be required to attend traffic court and pay fees related to your court appearance. However, the law enforcement officer who pulls your vehicle over cannot legally seize your cell phone or other device unless you commit a more serious unrelated offense that the officer discovers in the process of pulling your vehicle over due to your cell phone use.