Keep Your Eyes on the Road, Not the Keypad-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Keep Your Eyes on the Road, Not the Keypad

Texting While Driving
Texting While Driving

As of midnight on Thursday, March 8th a new state of Pa. law went into effect requiring drivers to pull over and stop if they want to use text-based communications.  Drivers will risk a summary offense and a fine of $50.00 if they send text messages from behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. The key word in that sentence is a moving vehicle. If a vehicle is not in motion the law is not violated.  Pa. drivers can text while stopped at a red light, stop sign or pulled over to the side of the road.

This new law makes Pennsylvania the 35th state, along with Washington D.C., to prohibit drivers from texting.  This new law pertains to phones, computers or others devices that can send texts, emails or similar messages.   Police are not permitted to seize the devices when they write tickets, nor will any points be assessed against the operator's license.

State police said troopers will use observations of the driver while the vehicle is in motion to determine if traffic stops are warranted, as when someone keeps manipulating a hand-held device without appearing to speak into it. Their goal is voluntary compliance. "It's not going to be overnight, let's be honest ," said state Rep. Eugene DePasquale D-York, who worked for years to enact the new law. "It's going to be part of getting people to get their priorities straight. When they are driving a car, they need to be focused on the road."

In 2010 authorities said there were 14,000 accidents in Pennsylvania in which distracted driving contributed, including 68 fatalities.  To see why it is so important to avoid texting while driving, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LMJNFmkwxsWARNINGThis is a graphic video of a violent car accident recorded by a state trooper's dashboard camera.


By: Rick Caruso, rmcaruso@andrew.cmu.edu, 412-268-9404