This morning, a new law prohibiting texting while driving went into effect in Pennsylvania.
The Law makes texting while driving a primary offense, subjecting violators to a fine. Unfortunately, much to the dismay of many safe driving advocates, the law does not prohibit talking on a cell phone while driving. Critics are saying that it is going to be difficult to distinguish if a driver caught with their phone in hand is texting, dialing out to make a call, or reviewing GPS coordinates. However, Call records and time stamped text messages should be able to prove whether or not the driver was in fact texting. There's an even better solution, to will avoid this misunderstanding all together: Don't pick up your phone at all when you're behind the wheel.
The Ban is also seen as step back for Philadelphia. The City enacted its own law a few years ago prohibiting the use of any hand held device while operating a motor vehicle. While the law was in effect Philly Law Enforcement Officers issued 31,000 citations to drivers disobeying that law.
In Preparation for the Ban, A conference was held at St. Joseph’s University yesterday addressing the issue of distracted driving itself, including the topic texting behind the wheel. Among the Participants were PennDOT Officials, Pennsylvania Law Enforcement members, Street Smarts which is a Philadelphia Comprehensive Highway Traffic Safety Public Education and Awareness Campaign, EndDD.org, and the Casey Feldman Foundation.
Joel Feldman, of the Casey Feldman Foundation and its partner site, EndDD.org believes that this ban will in fact save lives. Joel’s 21-year-old daughter, Casey, was killed by a distracted driver in 2009. He has since advocated for safe driving on her behalf. In an interview with CBS Philadelphia, Joel said he was glad that some good could come out of this tragedy. Roughly 5,000 people were killed in 2009 as a result of accidents caused by drivers who were impaired by various distractions. This ban will offer drivers one less distraction.