A ban against text-messaging while driving has passed the Pennsylvania General Assembly and now awaits Gov. Tom Corbett’s signature.
The final bill, which allows police to pull over drivers suspected of texting while driving and issue a $50 fine. had almost unanimous support in the state Senate.
After years of debate, final passage is better late than never, said Democratic Sen. Jim Ferlo of Allegheny County.
Bill sponsor Sen. Robert Tomlinson, a Republican from Bucks County, said he’s happy the bill makes texting a primary offense.
“It’s no question that it’s dangerous, and it’s also in many instances deadly,” Tomlinson said. “You definitely have to take your eyes off the road, off of what you’re doing, you definitely have to look at your phone, your device, and to text.”
But five state senators voted against the proposal–including John Eichelberger, a Bedford County Republican. He said it’s a feel-good bill with no teeth.
For example, he notes, the ban doesn’t apply to someone typing a phone number or name into a cell phone to begin a call.
“So if I’m holding my BlackBerry and the officer sees me and stops me and I simply say, I was making a telephone call or checking my voicemail or using it for navigational purposes,” Eichelberger said. “How’s he supposed to know what I was doing?”
A representative for the governor has said he’ll sign the bill, which would then take effect in about four months.