I am writing in regard to HB 693 of 2013, which would make it a primary offense for anyone safely talking on a hand-held cell phone, aka “an interactive wireless communications device,” from operating a motor vehicle on Pennsylvania roads.
Similar bills have been introduced in the past. And each time, the people, through our elected officials, say we do not want this. The commonwealth, however, did pass a texting ban.
Proponents of HB 693 feel that it is too dangerous to allow motorists to talk on a hand-held phone. However, studies have shown that talking on a hand-held device is about as dangerous as talking on a hands-free phone.
According to the University of Utah, “In a 2006 study, [psychology professor David] Strayer first showed talking on a hands-free cell phone was just as distracting as using a hand-held phone while driving, but the message has failed to fully connect with the public, with many people believing hands-free devices are safer.”
If we are that concerned with safety, then we would also need to ban hands-free devices.
I fear this will become a “cash grab” for some police departments. This “gotcha” legislation could strain relations between residents, the police and the judicial system as a whole.
There is also an exemption for those who talk on a CB radio. Would that be the next liberty to go?
What should we do? We should allow this bill to die in committee and encourage our police to continue citing those who break current traffic laws. If you violate the current law, you pay for it.
The people have spoken. We the people want a texting ban, but also the freedom to be able to safely talk on a cell phone and drive.
SAMUEL J. HURST