By Jim Melwert
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Pennsylvania’s new no-texting-while-driving law went into effect Thursday morning. But Philadelphia’s top-cop says the law is a “step backwards” for Philadelphia.
Philadelphia’s distracted driving law was similar to New Jersey’s — no mobile devices while driving, unless you had a head-set or bluetooth. And Philadelphia police have issued 31,000 citations to drivers disobeying that law.
But today, that law in Philadelphia is gone, as the new Pennsylvania law kicks in. Cops can pull you over for texting, they can’t if you’re dialing a phone or chatting on a handset, which is a secondary offense.
“I think it actually weakened it, quite frankly,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says of the new law. “But Harrisburg passed the law, so we have to abide by it, but I actually think it watered down what we had here in Philadelphia.”
Ramsey says they will do their best to enforce the law. But many law enforcement officials across the state have said, the way the law is worded, it’s going to be tough to prove someone was actually texting, and not just dialing their phone.
“Hopefully at some point and time, the legislators there (in Harrisburg) will realize that separating those two things out don’t make a lot of sense,” Ramsey said.
Some Philadelphia residents, tired of seeing drivers distracted by cell phones, aren’t as diplomatic.
“Let those individuals that are building this law, let them get hit by somebody who’s driving with a phone to their ear or dialing a phone and then their attitude will be a lot different.”