Caution Laws

Making texting while driving illegal in Philadelphia is for everyone’s benefit.

Making texting while driving illegal in Philadelphia is for everyone’s benefit.

On Nov. 1, texting while driving officially became illegal in Philadelphia. The new legislation bans any driver from using a hand-held device while operating a vehicle. This month, violators will be warned by police officers if caught, but starting Dec.1, violators will be subject to at least a $75 fine – and as much as $300 for late payment.

Though drivers won’t be ticketed until Dec. 1, drivers shouldn’t wait until then to drive more responsibly. Chances are the text message, phone call, Twitter status or Facebook wall post you think you might have to respond to right away is not that important. It can – and should – wait until you have safely reached your destination. If you need to answer your phone, it would be wise to invest in a hands-free device or simply pull over.

According to City Hall’s Philly 311 Web site, drivers using their cell phones kill more than 2,500 people on Philadelphia streets each year, which is equal to approximately seven – preventable – deaths every day.

“A distracted driver is a dangerous driver,” the Web site says.

But distracted driving doesn’t end on four wheels. Under the new law, all motorists – including bikers, motorcyclists, skaters and skateboarders – will also be subject to the ban, and rightfully so. No matter what vehicle you are operating, it is important to be aware and alert on the road.

Although if motorists are subject to this law, pedestrians should not be exempt. Those who cross the street or jaywalk without paying attention to traffic are just as vulnerable as motorists. Mayor Nutter should challenge everyone in Philadelphia to use city streets safety.

The Temple News commends City Council for its efforts, but signing an ordinance into law won’t solve the problem of distracted driving. There will always be people who cannot resist the temptation of answering their ringing or vibrating cell phones. If you choose to do so, think twice – because the true consequences of distracted driving go far beyond any monetary costs. Motorists using their cell phones are just as bad as drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Both could cost you – as well as innocent people on the road – your lives.

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