New Law Bans Texting While Driving
Here's what you need to know about the new law.
Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday signed legislation that bans texting while driving on Pennsylvania roads.
The new law, which makes texting while driving a primary offense carrying a $50 fine, takes effect 120 calendar days from Wednesday.
“No text message is worth a human life,” Corbett said during a bill-signing event at a suburban Harrisburg cell phone store. “The message of this legislation is drive now and text later.”
The new law specifically does the following:
- Prohibits as a primary offense all drivers from using an Interactive Wireless Communication Device to send, read or write a text-based message.
- Defines an IWCD as a wireless phone, personal digital assistant, smart phone, portable or mobile computer or similar devices that can be used for texting, instant messaging, emailing or browsing the Internet.
- Defines a text-based message as a text message, instant message, email or other written communication composed or received on an IWCD.
- Institutes a $50 fine for convictions under this section.
- Makes clear that this law supersedes and preempts any local ordinances restricting the use of interactive wireless devices by drivers.
In 2010, there were almost 14,000 crashes in Pennsylvania where distracted driving played a role, with nearly 1,100 of those crashes involving a handheld cellular phone, according to the governor's office.
State Rep. Jesse White, who likely will represent parts of this area after redistricting, called it "common sense."
"This is common-sense legislation designed to make our roads safer for drivers and passengers alike. Recent tragic local accidents have confirmed what we already know, that texting while driving can be deadly," he said.
However, Heidelberg police Chief Vernon Barkley said it doesn’t go far enough. He called for legislation to band cell phone use unless it’s through a hands free device. Barkley also wanted tougher fines for people cause talking or texting.
“I do feel that it should be taken further,” Barkley said. “No cell phones unless hands free.”