Local/State

Ban on texting and driving takes effect in Pa.

Thursday, March 08, 2012
Ban on texting while driving Ban on texting while driving New rules are now in effect for drivers in PA

Chronic texters beware: There's one more way for Pennsylvania to make you pay.

A ban on texting while driving is now in effect, carrying a $50 fine. The new law went into effect Thursday.

POLL: Do you think Pa.'s new texting law will do any good

The new law pertains to phones, computers or other devices that can send texts, emails or similar messages. Police are not allowed to seize the devices when they write tickets.

Some law enforcement officials say the ban shouldn't be too difficult to enforce. Lansdowne Police Chief Daniel Kortan Jr. says texting drivers frequently look away from the road and drift out of their lanes.

Other local officials, including the mayor of Upper Darby, acknowledged enforcement can be tricky.

Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said his officers will be on the lookout for reckless driving. But he said in the event of an accident, authorities would check cell phone records to see if a text has been recently sent or received.

"If there's an accident, during the course of an accident, we can show causation factor would be then there would be charges more significant than texting," said Chitwood.

The new ban was the subject of a presentation Thursday in Upper Darby. Organizers handed out thumb bands. They say 'Live Long,' and they're a visual reminder for teens not to text behind the wheel.

Upper Darby High School students signed a pledge and slipped on the bands. But some believe the law should go further.

"I'll never text and drive and I think they should make it so you're not on the phone at all while driving," said junior Amy Schied.

A ban on handheld phone use was part of the bill passed over the summer by the state Senate but was removed before being passed by the House.

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