AAA Pushes Texting Law in Pennsylvania

On Nov. 9, AAA officials joined Pennsylvania state legislators to urge passage of a state law to ban text messaging while driving.

"Texting while driving is a risk to all road users, and an overwhelming majority of the public supports the enactment of a ban,” said Pennsylvania AAA Federation Director Ted Leonard. Leonard spoke at the state Capitol along with House Transportation Committee Chairman Joe Markosek and state Rep. Richard Geist.

According to the Pennsylvania AAA Federation, text messaging while driving has skyrocketed over the past few years, and the trend is increasing. AAA research reported that 21 percent of drivers admitted text messaging while driving during the last month. According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, a driver's crash risk doubles when he/she looks away from the road for two or more seconds. Texting while driving presents a danger due to the significant time involved in writing, reading and sending messages – all of which take the driver's eyes and attention off the road.

Public support for laws banning text messaging while driving generally is high. A recent survey of AAA members in Pennsylvania showed 93 percent supported a law that would make it illegal for drivers to send text messages while operating a moving vehicle. As of Sept. 1, 2009, 18 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws banning texting while driving. Research by AAA in California shows that in-vehicle text messaging declined by 70 percent since California's law went into effect Jan. 1, 2009.

"Text messaging is one of many distractions that can divert a driver's attention," said Leonard, "and teen drivers are particularly susceptible to distractions like texting, personal grooming, changing the radio/CD player and talking with passengers. For adult drivers, who provide the example for young drivers, texting while driving sends the wrong message. We strongly support the measures in House Bill 2070 to ban the dangerous practice of texting while driving."

The National Safety Council (NSC) in January 2009 called for a nationwide ban on cell phone use while driving to make the roadways safer.

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