Ask Marvin Lundy…About Distracted Driving

A recent survey revealed that 84 percent of cell phone users believe using a cell phone while driving increases the risk of being in an accident. Yet, as recently as last year, over 800,000 people per day were texting or calling on their cell phones while behind the wheel.

With cell phone use increasing your chances of being in an accident by 400 percent, why do so many of us continue to do it?

I don’t have an answer to that question, but what I do know is that, as of December 1st, you’ll pay for it if you get caught in Philadelphia using your cell phone behind the wheel. The Philadelphia law banning cell phone use while driving went into effect on November 1. However, the city allowed a one-month grace period where they would only give a warning.

The grace period has now ended, so if you’re caught, you’ll have to dip into your pocket.

The law, which applies to those operating vehicles, skateboards, rollerblades or scooters, carries a minimum fine of $150 and a maximum of $300, or $75 if they waive their right to contest the violation.

Currently, only two other municipalities in Pennsylvania have bans on cell phone use while driving, Conshohocken and Lebanon. While there is not a state ban, Pennsylvania has come close. A measure introduced by Josh Shapiro (D) Montgomery County, was defeated 100 to 95. Currently, there is new legislation under consideration to ban texting while driving, which lawmakers hope will be passed by the end of the year.

Things vary in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, so here’s a synopsis.

New Jersey: The law establishes a fine of $100 for the use of a hand held wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle. Similar to other laws across the United States, drivers can use a wireless device if they are using a “hands-free” device and the placement of the hands free device does not interfere with the operation of the vehicle. This is a primary offence, meaning a police officer can stop you if he or she sees you using a cell phone while driving.

Delaware: There is no restriction on hands-free devices for Adult Drivers (with a current license). There are specific bans for school bus drivers if you’re 20 or under.

With all of these, there are exceptions for emergency situations.

Remember, you can always pull over if you need to use the phone. Your caller will appreciate the fact that you are safe.