Act 98 goes into effect March 8. This is the legislation that bans using handheld devices — such as cell phones — to “text;” that is, send messages of any sort.
And that means for anyone caught texting and driving, it's a primary offense (you could be pulled over). The fine is $50.
The law stemmed from growing concern over the amount of traffic accidents and, unfortunately, deaths as more people use cell phones for texting. And more people text than talk. That scale tipped back in 2009, when CTIA-The Wireless Association found Americans sent more than 1.3 trillion text messages vs. 660 billion calls they made.
In the commonwealth, 66 people were killed in 2010 by distracted driving, according to Gov. Tom Corbett's office. Of the 13,790 crashes in Pennsylvania that year, 1,100 of them involved drivers using cell phones.
Those figures are prompting lawmakers to consider legislation that bans driving and talking on cell phones altogether. As it stands, Pennsylvania is now one of 35 states that disallow texting while driving. Only seven ban cell phone use while driving. Others have conditions, such as for teens and bus drivers.
At $50 a violation, is it enough of a deterrent? Should cell phones be banned as well?
Christopher Passante is the editor of the Central Penn Business Journal.
Editor's note: This item was modified from its previous version to correct that Act 98 goes into effect March 8.