Texters beware: A law puts the brake on a fatal distraction

March 8, 2012 12:00 am

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For as much as social media can be useful, this is one editorial that we hope you won't text to someone who might be driving. That's because texting while driving has been illegal in Pennsylvania since one minute after midnight last night.

The anti-texting bill signed by Gov, Tom Corbett four months ago, while a welcome relief, is an illustration of how difficult it is to sell commonsense measures in the General Assembly. It has been obvious for years that those drivers dying to text have, in fact, been dying or injuring themselves or others. Yet 34 states preceded Pennsylvania in recognizing the obvious danger of the distraction.

It is not the only distraction for drivers that could be easily curtailed with a law. There's plenty of evidence that the use of hand-held cell phones can also interfere with safe driving. Yet the Legislature has refused to do anything about that, actually removing local bans on hand-held cell phone use for drivers in Philadelphia, Erie and Harrisburg in the state law that bans texting.

The message for drivers today, especially those who are young and impressionable, is that speaking on a hand-held phone is good, typing on the same phone is bad -- when in fact both are bad. With lawmakers derelict in their duty, we can only hope that the half-message of a $50 fine for texting (about $136 after costs are added) will get the attention of drivers as much as any phone.

First Published 2012-03-07 23:03:00

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