HB 229 specifies that mobile telephones are not limited only to cell phones but also include any device a driver communicates with by using at least one hand, including CB or other two-radio radios. Anyone violating the proposed law would face a $500 fine.The bill, which would still need to be signed by the governor if it gains Senate approval, details the types of emergencies that call for legitimate cell phone use, including threats to public safety, medical concerns, unsafe road conditions or mechanical troubles that could harm passengers.
Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia prohibit school bus drivers from using cell phones while transporting children, while nine states have passed laws banning all drivers from using handheld cell phones while behind the wheel. Other states may have regulations in their school bus driver manuals that ban the practice, and local districts may also have their own regulations.
Earlier this month Pennsylvania passed a law banning all motorists, including school bus drivers, from texting behind the wheel, but some critics said it did not go far enough. According to drive safe PA, in 2010 there were 13,846 crashes in Pennsylvania in which distracted driving played a role, and 1,093 crashes statewide in which at least one driver used a handheld phone — with 11 fatalities.
In December the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that all 50 states and the District of Columbia outlaw the use of all forms of wireless communication while driving. This guidance was reiterated when NTSB released its final report from its investigation of a 2010 accident in Missouri involving two school buses that killed a high school band member.