Pa. ban on texting-and-driving to take effect March 8

A ban on texting-and-driving for all drivers in Pennsylvania will take effect on March 8. The new law, passed in October 2011, prohibits drivers from sending, reading or writing of a text-based communication on cell phones and other such devices while the vehicle is in motion. The statewide texting ban comes nearly two years after Penn State enacted a policy that bans all use of cell phones and other electronic communications devices, with the exception of hands-free voice conversations, by University employees driving on University business.

“This new law really is in the interest of the safety of everyone on the road, and reinforces the policies we already have in place here at Penn State,” said Matthew Cover, lieutenant with Penn State University Police at the University Park campus. “Research shows distracted driving continues to be a leading cause of accidents in the United States -- we support measures to minimize distractions of all kinds while driving.”

According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 6,000 people were killed and nearly 450,000 were injured as a result of distracted driving in 2009 alone.

The new Pennsylvania law makes texting-and-driving a primary offense and applies to all drivers and all license classes. A violation carries a fine of $50.

The existing University policy, which can be found at http://guru.psu.edu/policies/SY37.html, applies to all employees driving on University business, regardless of whether or not they are driving a University-owned vehicle. Under the University policy, which was enacted in April 2010, drivers may have telephone conversations only if they use hands-free devices. The University policy also applies to other individuals driving on University business, including students and volunteers, whether driving a University-owned, personal or rented vehicle.

Cover encouraged all drivers to pull off the roadway to a safe location and park the vehicle to send or receive messages, or to simply ignore incoming communications until the end of the trip.

For more information, contact Cover at mbc139@psu.edu or 814-863-1111.

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Last Updated March 07, 2012