The “Anti-Texting Law” takes effect Thursday at 12:01 a.m. What is texting and driving? The new law allows police to charge anyone caught text messaging on their phone while operating a vehicle with a primary offense and a $50 fine.
Authorities say that the law will make it clear just how dangerous texting and driving can be. About 14,000 of the Keystone State’s 2010 crashes were attributed to distracted driving. And 68 people died in those wrecks.
“Your most important job when behind the wheel is to focus only on driving,” PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said in a statement. ”Most people would never close their eyes for five seconds while driving, but that’s how long you take your eyes of the road, or even longer, every time you send or read a text message.”
Pennsylvania will be the 10th state to enact such a law, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Police hope the law helps prevent future accidents associated with texting when driving.
“This is a serious problem and we are hoping that we can educate citizens on the dangers of texting while driving and prevent future accidents,” said State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan.
Police say they hope for voluntary compliance from motorists. But that doesn’t mean everyone will stop text messaging behind the wheel.
“Our troopers will attempt to use observations of the driver while the vehicle is in motion to determine if traffic stops are warranted. An example might be the motorist continues to manipulate the device over an extended distance with no apparent voice communication.”
For specifics on the law visit PennDOT’s website.