EDITORIAL: Follow the law, don’t text and drive

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

You’ve all heard this over and over. Don’t text while you are driving. Well, now it’s a law in Pennsylvania.

The new law prohibiting text-based communication while driving took effect Thursday, March 8. Now texting while driving is a primary offense carrying a $50 fine.

Of course talking on the phone while driving can also cause distraction. So far in the Keystone State there is no law for talking in a cell phone while driving. We all know that a conversation while driving can take our attention and we all know that texting, whether writing, reading or sending, requires your eyes to come off the road. That is a risk to not only yourself, but to all of those around you.

The new law specifically does the following:

• Makes it a primary offense to use an Interactive Wireless Communication Device (IWCD) to send, read or write a text-based message.

• Defines an IWCD as a wireless phone, personal digital assistant, smartphone, portable or mobile computer or similar devices that can be used for texting, instant messaging, emailing or browsing the Internet.

• Defines a text-based message as a text message, instant message, email or other written communication composed or received on an IWCD.

• Institutes a $50 fine for convictions.

• Makes clear that this law supersedes and preempts any local ordinances restricting the use of interactive wireless devices by drivers.

Pennsylvania officials report that almost 14,000 vehicular accidents in Pennsylvania during 2010 were caused by distracted driving. Those crashes caused 68 deaths.

It not only makes good safety sense to put the phone away while driving. And now it’s the law.

For details on the new law, visit www.dot.state.pa.us and choose “Anti-Texting Law.”