PA Governor Signs Texting While Driving Ban

Once it is in effect 120 calendar days from now, the law makes TWD a primary offense with a $50 fine upon conviction.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signed a bill on Nov. 9 that bans texting while driving on Pennsylvania roads. The new law makes texting while driving a primary offense carrying a $50 fine once it takes effect in 120 calendar days.

"Senate Bill 314 aims to put a halt to texting from behind the wheel and is intended to save lives," Corbett said during a bill-signing event in Harrisburg. "No text message is worth a human life. The message of this legislation is drive now and text later."

The new law:

  • 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 device that can be used for texting, instant messaging, e-mailing, or browsing the Internet
  • Defines a text-based message as a text message, instant message, e-mail, or other written communication composed or received on an IWCD
  • Institutes a $50 fine for convictions
  • Makes clear that the 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 hand-held cell phone, according to the governor's office. "We've said it in the past, but today, we are making it law: if you have an urgent need to text, you must pull over and park. If it's not important enough to stop your car, then it's certainly not important enough to risk a life," said Corbett. He thanked Sen. John Rafferty, Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, Rep. Richard Geist, and Rep. Kathy Watson for their leadership on the legislation.

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