Pa. move to ban drivers from using handheld cell phones on hold

    Restrictions on Pennsylvania’s teen drivers have become law, while a ban on texting awaits the governor’s signature.

    Yet one piece of the distracted-driving platform remains.

    Driving while talking on handheld and hands-free cell phones is still legal in the state.

    Rep. Eugene DePasquale, a Democrat from York County, said he supports banning the practice.

    “I’ve never had an instance, I mean, where I know someone literally didn’t get some international peace agreement done because they weren’t able to make a call from a cell phone,” he said. “If it’s that important, you can pull over and make the call.”

    If the state Senate had its way, the ban on texting while driving that recently passed the General Assembly would have also made outlaws of those who drive while using a hand-held cell phone.

    But, that part of the bill was cut in the House.

    While the House Majority spokesman says passing a handheld cell phone ban is still a priority, only a dozen more voting days are left this year for lawmakers with several major proposals competing for their attention.

    Rep. Josh Shapiro, a Montgomery County Democrat, is one of most outspoken backers of halting talking on handheld cell phones while behind the wheel.

    “It’s a bipartisan issue and it’s a common-sense issue,” Shapiro said. “And while the Republican leadership opposed it in the House of Representatives, I would expect that as they revisit the issue and look at it again with a fresh perspective they’ll realize that including that in the final law and expanding the law is really the important thing for public safety here in Pennsylvania.”

    House Republicans contend they don’t oppose a handheld ban on its own, but wanted to avoid trying to include it in legislation specifically targeting texting while driving.

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