Texting Bill Becomes Law
Distracted driving legislation that was signed in November by Gov. Tom Corbett is becoming a reality in Pennsylvania. Senate Bill 314, which prohibits sending, reading or writing text messages on interactive wireless communication devices for all drivers while operating a vehicle, became law on Thursday, March 8.

Prior to this bill taking effect, the offense of Careless Driving in the Vehicle Code covered any traffic violation committed as a result of being distracted, by any type of distraction as a summary offense, with enhanced fines if the offense causes serious injury or death. There was no state statute prohibiting the use of interactive wireless communication devices while driving.

Senate Bill 314 as it was originally drafted listed texting while driving was a secondary offense. I voted with many of my House colleagues to amend the legislation on the House floor and strike out the secondary enforcement language, thus making enforcement of text messaging a primary offense with penalty of a $50 fine. This means that an officer can make a traffic stop of any person suspected of texting while driving.

Deaths in crashes on Pennsylvania highways climbed to 1,324 in 2010, an increase of 68 from 2009, according to the latest Pennsylvania Department of Transportation statistics. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that driver inattention led to eight out of 10 of all crashes and 65 percent of all near crashes.

With enactment of this legislation, Pennsylvania joins 34 states and the District of Columbia in prohibiting drivers from texting behind the wheel. I am hopeful that this legislation will reduce the afore-mentioned statistics and make our highways safer for all of us.

State Representative Curt Sonney
4th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Scott Little
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