By a vote of 41-8, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a distracted-driving bill Wednesday; it will now go to the House, where it will have to be reconciled with legislation there.
Among its provisions, Senate Bill 314, which began as an anti-texting bill, would limit teen drivers to a single nonfamily passenger during the first six months of driving. It would also make the use of handheld cellphones or computers a secondary offense for all drivers, but a primary offense if the driver is texting or e-mailing. To enforce a secondary offense, a police officer needs to have pulled a driver over for another infraction.
The bill's primary sponsor, Sen. Robert M. Tomlinson (R., Bucks), said 20 percent of crashes resulting in injuries in 2009 had involved reports of distracted driving. The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was those younger than 20 - 16 percent of those drivers involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving, he said, making this legislation an important safety measure. - Kathleen Brady Shea