Thursday, March 1, 2012

Texting and Driving: What Does the Law Say?

In today's society most everyone has a cell phone, correct? The majority send texts from those phones, and some, the unsafe few, send them while driving. In more and more states this has become illegal, and since November of 2011, Pennsylvania is one of those states.

While most people know that texting while driving is not considered to be safe, many still do it, thinking that it can't be that dangerous. Wrong. The Centers for Disease Control's information about distracted driving clearly shows that it is that dangerous, for everyone.They say that there are three types of distracted driving:
Visual―taking your eyes off the road;
Manual―taking your hands off the wheel; and
Cognitive―taking your mind off what you are doing.
The act of texting while driving fits into all three of distractions, without fail. There is no way to text and drive without doing these things.That means no more texting while driving, but does the average person know what the law considers to be “texting?” The wording of the code says:
Vehicle code (75 PA.C.S.) - Use of Interactive Wireless Communications Devices for Text-Based Communications While Motor Vehicles Prohibited

But what is a “text based communications device?” The law consideres it to be:
"Interactive wireless communications device." A wireless telephone, personal digital assistant, smart phone, portable or mobile computer or similar device which can be used for voice communication, texting, e-mailing, browsing the Internet or instant messaging. The term does not include any of the following:
(1) a device being used exclusively as a global positioning or navigation system;
(2) a system or device that is physically or electronically integrated into the vehicle; or
(3) a communications device that is affixed to a mass vehicle, bus or school bus.

That means that a phone, pda, laptop or tablet is considered to be an “interactive wireless communications device” according to the law. A GPS, if it is only a GPS (ie, Garmin, TomTom, etc,) or if it is integrated into a car is legal to use, but the GPS feature on a smartphone may not be.

Though it can be a hassle ,nothing is worth the consequences of sending a text. And as always, the experienced lawyers at Pottstown’s Wolf, Baldwin & Associates can answer your questions, and help you with your legal needs.

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