Ban on driving while using handheld phones not imminent in Pa.

    Pennsylvania’s six-month-old texting-while-driving ban is proving tough to enforce. That’s partially because it doesn’t extend to all handheld cell phone use behind the wheel.

    But the appetite among lawmakers to expand the measure appears negligible.

    Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati doesn’t deny the texting ban was a product of compromise.

    However making the law stronger by banning the use of handheld cell phones behind the wheel won’t eradicate distracted driving, said Scarnati (R-Jefferson).

    Other lawmakers echo Scarnati’s concerns — saying police need to be empowered to identify and prosecute all kinds of distracted driving.

    And some favor a piecemeal approach.

    Steve Miskin, spokesman for the House GOP, says for the past few years, a few driver-safety issues have been lumped together in one piece of legislation — including new rules for teenage drivers.

    “It has never been able to get through,” he said. “So we chose a different tack. Let’s break it up and do it incrementally. So we got teen driving rules — that’s now law. And we got the texting ban — that’s now law.”

    But it’s not a task likely to be taken on in the handful of days lawmakers are in Harrisburg before the November election.

    Police say the texting-while-driving ban is virtually unenforceable because other cell phone use is not prohibited, so people can just claim to be dialing a number, or checking the time on their phones.

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