Senate Approves Tomlinson Bill to Ban Texting While Driving

Harrisburg – Pennsylvania motorists would be prohibited from texting while driving under legislation sponsored by Senator Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks). Senate Bill 143 was approved by the State Senate today.

Tomlinson’s bill is intended to address an increasingly common and dangerous practice that has resulted in accidents and fatalities across the nation.

“Drivers should be doing only one thing when they are behind the wheel of an automobile, and that is paying attention to the road and other drivers,” Tomlinson said.  “Text-distraction doesn’t just jeopardize the lives of those texting, but also puts the lives of everyone on the road with them at risk.”

Senate Bill 143 would make texting while driving a secondary offense if a motorist has been cited for another violation and would carry a fine of $100.

Pennsylvania would join 10 other states that have prohibited texting while driving for all classes of drivers.  Eight more states prohibit texting by novice drivers or certain specialized driving classifications.

An estimated 20 percent of drivers are sending or receiving text messages while behind the wheel, according to a Nationwide Insurance study. Another poll found that the number skyrockets to 66 percent when drivers age 18 to 24 are involved. The practice, especially popular among young people, has resulted in deadly accidents.

“Texting while driving is distracting, dangerous, unnecessary and potentially deadly,” Tomlinson said. “You can’t argue with the fact that texting is a major driver distraction and it will lead to more accidents. For the sake of lives and public safety, we need to ban this practice.”

A recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involve some form of driver distraction occurring within three seconds before the vehicle crash.  In one well-publicized case in New York, five teenagers died after their vehicle ran head-on into a tractor trailer.  The driver was text messaging moments before the accident.

Senate Bill 143 now goes to the House for consideration.


Megan Crompton
(717) 787-5072