The Pennsylvania Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill to ban texting while driving, which now awaits Gov. Tom Corbett's signature.
The new legislation will prohibit all drivers from sending, receiving, or reading text messages while driving. As a primary offense, police officers will be able to pull over any driver if they suspect he or she has been texting while driving. Motorists caught violating the law will have to pay a $50 fine for each offense.
The bill seeks to lower the high number of deaths caused every year by distracted driving. In 2008, at any given moment, more than 800,000 people were texting, making calls, or using a hand-held cell phone while driving in the U.S. Equally as troubling is the percentage of teens who text while driving.
While teenagers are texting, they spend about 10 percent of the time outside their driving lane, and it makes their reaction time as slow as a 70-year-old.
The Senate approved the bill to ban texting the same day a fatal crash occurred in Butler County. On November 1, a 17-year-old teen was killed when she was texting while driving. The young driver drifted off the right shoulder of the road, overcorrected, and hit a tree.
The legislation will take effect 120 days after the governor signs the bill. Pennsylvania will join 34 other states that already have texting bans in place. Nine states prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones entirely.