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Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 at 9:00 am    

On March 8, 2012 of this year, Pennsylvania joined the majority of states in our nation in adopting an anti-texting law. According to PENNDOT’s website, the key provisions of this law:

  • texting while driving banProhibit any driver from using an interactive wireless communication device (IWCD) to send, read or write a text-based communication while his or her vehicle is in motion.
  • Makes a violation of this law a primary offense and provides for a $50.00 fine for anyone convicted of violating this law.
  • Defines an IWCD as a wireless phone, personal digital assistant, smartphone, portable or mobile computer or similar device that can be used for texting, instant messaging, emailing or browsing the internet.
  • Defines a text-based communication as a text message, instant message, email or other written communication on an IWCD violation.

Since a violation of this law is designated as a primary offense, a police officer can stop you for such a violation even though you have committed no other driving violation. However, PENNDOT’s website points out that the violation carries no points and will not be recorded on the driver’s license record of non-commercial drivers. Furthermore, the texting ban does not include the use of a GPS device, a system or device that is physically or electronically integrated into the vehicle or a communications device that is affixed to a mass transit vehicle, bus or school bus.

Although there has been much debate about the enforceability of this law, State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan was recently quoted as saying “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.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a majority of states and the District of Columbia all ban text messaging for drivers. Nine states, together with the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand held cell phones while driving.

In 2010 alone, there were almost 14,000 crashes in Pennsylvania where distracted driving played a role, resulting in 68 deaths.

For more information on the Pennsylvania’s anti-texting law check out and choose “anti-texting law”