Pa. Senate OK's fines for distracted driving
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HARRISBURG -- Txting n driving has 2 go.
That's the message from the state Senate, which today approved a bill providing for $100 fines for motorists caught texting and driving.
The Senate bill makes texting-and-driving a primary offense, but makes talking-and-driving a secondary offense, meaning drivers can be ticketed for it only if police stop them for another reason.
Talking on cell phones with a hands-free device would be permitted for experienced motorists but not for drivers with learner's permits or junior licenses.
Violators would be fined $100.
The bill also outlaws "e-mailing, browsing the Internet or instant messaging" while driving.
Sponsored by Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, R-Bucks, it passed 41-8.
Mr. Tomlinson's proposal initially called for texting-and-driving to be a secondary offense, but an amendment offered Tuesday by Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, strengthened enforcement.
"I think it's a good compromise at this point," Mr. Tomlinson said, "but I don't believe this is the final version of this bill. I think there will be continued negotiation and compromise."
The bill now heads to the House, where a more stringent distracted-driving bill has stalled because of a disagreement over whether violations should be treated as primary or secondary offenses.
Mr. Ferlo, a longtime proponent of measures to reduce driving distractions, said the legislation is long overdue and that today's Senate vote is evidence of progress.
"As we have stalled, more and more lives have been affected by distracted driving," he said. "Talking on a cell phone and driving is dangerous, distracting and irresponsible no matter who is driving."
First Published June 8, 2011 3:22 pm