State Sen. Jim Ferlo reminded motorists today that Pennsylvania’s new law that bans texting while driving goes into effect Thursday. Ferlo was one of the original co-sponsors of a bill to ban texting and phone calling while driving.
“This new law will deter dangerous and distracted driving practices and save lives,” Ferlo (D-Allegheny) said. “Apart from the potential legal penalties, I hope more people heed how dangerous and irresponsible it is to text while driving. That being said, I’m going to continue to work toward getting all mobile phone use, excluding hands free technology, off of the roads.”
Starting Thursday, Ferlo said Pennsylvania drivers will no longer be allowed to text, instant message or email while behind the wheel. Emphasizing the danger, Ferlo successfully amended the legislation to make the state’s anti-texting law a primary offense, which means a motorist can be stopped and cited specifically for committing that offense.
He said the new law applies to anyone using interactive wireless communication devices to send or receive text communications while driving. Violators are subject to a $50 fine. While the penalties that will be imposed will certainly be a deterrent, he emphasized that a lengthy period of education and advocacy will be necessary to encourage people to change their behaviour.
“Talking on a cell phone or texting while driving is dangerous, distracting and irresponsible no matter who is driving,” Senator Ferlo added. “Similar to when the seat belt law was first imposed, it will take a great deal of time and effort on the part of PennDot and local and state police to get drivers to put away their cell phones and focus on the road first. I hope that the mass media will join us in educating the public.”
Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming type of distracted driving. In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in crashes involving driver distraction, and an estimated 448,000 were injured.
More information can be found on Pennsylvania’s texting while driving ban at http://www.drivesafepa.org/.