Pennsylvania’s Distracted Driving Law Explained by Attorney Chad Rankin of RG Injury Law

Pennsylvania’s Distracted Driving Law Explained by Attorney Chad Rankin of RG Injury Law

What You Need to Know When Distracted Driving Causes Pennsylvania Car Accidents

Lancaster Personal Injury Attorney Chad Rankin Explains PA’s Distracted Driving Law

Learn If You Have a Distracted Driver Accident Case from Pennsylvania Injury Attorney Chad Rankin of RG Injury Law

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident because a distracted driver was texting, Snapchatting, taking a selfie, or simply looking at his or her mobile phone while driving, then you should learn about Pennsylvania’s Distracted Driving Law. Did you know that Pennsylvania law currently makes it illegal for a driver to send, read, or write a text or email while the vehicle is in motion?  However, this law has not gone far enough to prevent car accidents, injuries, and deaths from distracted driving. Distracted driving accidents claimed 3,142 lives in 2019.  In the U.S. in 2018, more than 2,800 people were killed and an estimated 400,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. About 1 in 5 of the people who died in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2018 were not in vehicles―they were walking, riding their bikes, or otherwise outside a vehicle.1

The Driver catastrophic consequences of distracted driving grow higher each year.

  • Sadly, 9 people die every day in the United States from driving distracted.
  • 11% of car accidents leading to fatalities are related to distracted driving.
  • When texting, your eyes are off the road for 5 seconds. That’s the length of a football field when driving at 55 MPH.
  • You are 3 times more likely to crash when performing a visual or manual activity—such as reaching for a phone or the radio.

Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving in Pennsylvania

Here are DMV’s tips for remaining focused on your safe driving:

  1. Prepare for your drive. Program your favorite radio stations, finish getting ready and place all pets in carriers before you start driving to avoid unnecessary stress and distractions.
  2. Remain focused. Avoid cell phone use while driving by turning off your devices or enabling do not disturb functions and keep your eyes on the road. Do not read signs or watch outside activity for extended periods.
  3. Communicate with your passengers. Ask your children and passengers to be respectful of your driving and consider enlisting a passenger to help you navigate and find items in the vehicle.
  4. If you cannot wait, pull over. Stop the vehicle before responding to important messages or phone calls. While it may be legal to text at stop lights, it can endanger your safety and the safety of your passengers.
  5. Recognize when rest is needed. Take breaks from driving if you are driving for long periods.

House Bill 1684 (HB1684) makes it it illegal for a driver in Pennsylvania to talk on a cell phone while driving unless they are doing so hands-free:

Establishes a 2-point penalty for violations of hand-held devices for all drivers; prohibits hand-held use of devices while vehicle is in motion and establishes presumption of use; removes non-applicability provision for certain professions; establishes the Driver Distraction Awareness Fund; and establishes additional penalties for careless driving while distracted.

A violation of the new law would be a primary offense. Unlike a secondary offense like the seatbelt law, a primary offense means that a driver could be pulled over by a police officer if they see you using a cell phone while operating a moving vehicle. A police officer can pull you over and give you a ticket even though you are not violating any other Pennsylvania law. A first-time offense would result in a $50 fine and second-time offenders would be fined $100.

Allowing a police officer to pull someone over when they are observed holding a cell phone while driving will hopefully increase the number of tickets issued to distracted drivers. Under current law, each municipality in Pennsylvania averaged only two distracted driving tickets the entire year of 2017. Shockingly, two tickets per municipality was an increase from the prior years.  

The new proposed law is even more strict for our younger inexperienced drivers.  The new law would make talking on a cell phone illegal, even if hands-free, by someone under the age of 18. Frankly, this makes sense. We do not want our young drivers to be distracted in any way while they learn how to drive safely.  

Pennsylvania Laws on Distracted Driving addresses the lack of experience of novice drivers because have not fully developed their safety judgement when driving. Distracted driving rates are higher for  our youngest drivers than any other age. Novice drivers (i.e., drivers younger than 18 years old) are unable to text and drive or use their phones for voice communication in Pennsylvania. This means that novice drivers and those with learner’s permits cannot operate handheld or hands-free devices.

 According to AAA, using a cell phone in any manner, including hands-free, increases the risk of being in an accident by eight times.

A driver who causes a car accident while using a cell phone may also be liable for punitive damages.  If you or someone you know was injured or killed by a distracted driver, contact Lancaster car accident lawyers Chad Rankin and Bill Gregory at Rankin & Gregory, LLC (RG Injury Law) for a free legal consultation to determine the full extent of your rights. Call us for a no-pressure, car accident injury case consultation at 717.656.5000.


You may think you need car accident lawyers in Philadelphia to win your auto accident injury case. However, our winning record is the result of personalized attention and communication with clients, thorough knowledge of vehicle law in Pennsylvania, and experience with car insurance companies. While we call Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, our home, our PA personal injury law firm fights for clients with injuries and disabilities in need of personal injury lawyers, and Workers’ Compensation lawyers mid-Atlantic region from offices in Lancaster County that include service in Harrisburg, Hershey, Middletown, Annville, Mt. Gretna, Elizabethtown, Columbia PA, Lancaster City, Neffsville, Hempfield Township, Manheim Borough, Manor Township, Manheim Township, Gap, Ephrata, Lititz, Leola, Mt. Joy, Marietta, Akron, Denver, Millersville, Willow Street, Strasburg, New Holland, Paradise, Refton, Quarryville, Reamstown, West Chester, Coatesville, Exton, King of Prussia, and Malvern. RG Injury Law also fights for people with disabilities in the counties of Lebanon, Philadelphia, Chester, York, Dauphin, Berks, and Montgomery.

  1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (April 2020). Traffic Safety Facts Research Note: Distracted Driving 2018external icon. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC: NHTSA. Accessed 18 August 2020.
Chad Rankin, Personal Injury Lawyer Lancaster - Car Accident and Personal Injury Attorney

The best part is that he got a large amount of money for me.
★★★★★ I thought I had no case and no chance of any compensation for my injuries. Chad fought for me and put my mind at ease. And the best part is he got a large amount of money for me. Thanks Chad!

Review by: Michael Reviewing: RG Injury Law   Date published: 2017  Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Call 717.656.5000

The best part is that he got a large amount of money for me.

★★★★★ I thought I had no case and no chance of any compensation for my injuries. Chad fought for me and put my mind at ease. And the best part is he got a large amount of money for me. Thanks Chad!

Review by: Michael Reviewing: RG Injury Law   Date published: 2017  Rating: 5 / 5 stars

 

RG Injury Law Resource Center

PA Injury Lawyer Chad Rankin Explains Why You Need Full Tort Auto Insurance