Wednesday, 23 November 2011 17:20

PA Senate Approves Statewide Driving-While-Texting Ban

A bill to ban texting while driving, amended in October to make it a primary offense, passed the House on November 7 and won concurrence in the Senate November 8 by a vote of 45-5. It now awaits the governor’s signature, according to The Harrisburg Times Herald.

Gov. Corbett is expected to sign the bill, pending a final review, Gary Miller, a spokesman for the governor’s office, said.

Pennsylvania joins 34 states and the District of Columbia that have banned texting while driving. Of those, 31 enforce the ban as a primary offense, meaning police can pull over a motorist observed texting while driving.

Senate Bill 314 bans reading, writing or sending a text message while driving. A provision to ban hand-held cell phone use for calls was previously stripped from the bill.

The bill initially called for texting to be a secondary offense—a motorist could only be ticketed following an accident or if stopped for a primary offense—but an amendment making texting a primary offense, sponsored by state Rep. Josh Shapiro, D-153, passed in the House Oct. 25 by a vote of 128-69. The full bill with the amendment attached passed the next day in the House 164-29. The final House vote on the bill November 7 was a near-unanimous 188-7.

Shapiro, who has sponsored several bills to ban the use of hand-held cell phones, termed S.B. 314 “a big win for safety in Pennsylvania.”

“After seven years of fighting we finally passed a ban on texting while driving in Pennsylvania and made it a primary offense,” Shapiro said. “This is the strongest bill possible.”

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