Nov. 8, 2011
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab
Texting while driving could cost drivers big bucks
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – “OMG, I culd get a $100 ticket for sendn U this message,” may be a text message sent by someone who is texting while driving following Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signing into a law a measure banning the practice.
Wednesday, Pennsylvania became the 31st state to enact a ban on the use of any kind of hand-held texting device by drivers of moving vehicles. With Corbett’s signature the law takes effect March 8. The Pennsylvania legislature approved the law last week.
Talking on handheld cell phones is permitted.
“University Police will enforce the new law when it takes effect just like we do all other statutes,” said Michael Simmons, chief of University Police at Slippery Rock University.
The basic fine for texting while driving is $50. However, with a minimum of almost $36 in related court costs assessed on all traffic violations and the possibility of even more additional court fees, the actual cost of a texting violation ticket could approach the $100 mark.
The law specifies the ticket revenue be mandated to support a state education program.
Police may not seize or confiscate texting devices as part of the violation.
Simmons said texting while driving has not been a problem on campus, in part, because traffic moves slow and is limited on campus. “Still, we recognize the seriousness of the potential problem, and we urge those on campus, in the interest of safety, to follow the law by not texting while driving,” he said.
With the governor’s signature and the 120-day waiting period it will become illegal in Pennsylvania for a driver to prepare, send or read any type of text message while driving. Pennsylvania also has stronger restrictions regarding “junior drivers” that ban all distractions, including cell phone use. That law also sets limits on how many passengers are permitted and adds training requirements for young drivers.
The House version of the bill had banned even talking on a handheld cell phone while driving, but was revised in the Senate version, which eliminated that provision in the final legislation. However, some local municipalities have enacted their own laws regarding cell phone use. The state law, when fully enacted, will supersede those regulations.
The law makes texting a primary traffic violation, which means police can stop a driver for the sole infraction of any form of texting while driving. Secondary violations require police to have a primary reason for the stop before being able to issue a violation for a “secondary offense.” For example: police could stop a driver for texting and also cite the drive for failure to wear a seatbelt, a secondary violation in Pennsylvania.
Thirty other states already have similar laws banning texting while driving. Some states ban both texting and talking on handheld devices while driving.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.