Can Texting Ban Truly Keep Drivers Safe?

ALTOONA, BLAIR COUNTY - Governor Tom Corbett is expected to sign into a law a new bill banning texting while driving.

The bill is designed to stop tragic accidents, like this one that killed a 17-year-old Butler County teen earlier this week.

State police say Tuesday night high school senior, Alexis Summers, was texting behind the wheel when she crashed her car into a tree near her home.

It's hard to say whether or not the accident could have been prevented had the legislation already been in place.

Because while the bill bans texting, it doesn't ban any of the other distractions drivers may face, like GPS, eating behind the wheel, putting on makeup, or even using a phone for anything else.

"They come buzzing by not even paying attention."

That's a problem, Craig Rabits said, because he drives a school bus.

"You put your yellows on and your reds and they just don't stop. They are just not paying attention."

Rabits said that's because they're on their phone and it happens all the time. Adding, "It can cause a major catastrophe."

Like the crash Tuesday night that killed a teenager in Butler County.

The girl crashed her car head on into a tree. Police said they found a half-written text message on her phone.

"This tragedy last night is living proof what can happen when you're distracted for a moment in a vehicle," Pennsylvania State Trooper Cpl. Eric Hermick said.

"Somebody passed me on the way to work this morning and I thought, I think they were texting," said insurance agent, Lisa Mancinelli.

Mancinelli said texting is one of many reasons why drivers' eyes veer off the road.

"Cell phone texting is just one piece of the big puzzle," she said. Adding, "The issue of being a distracted driver I think crosses all age groups and all experience levels."

"Mine," driver Andy Mast said, "going through the glove compartment."

"Texting and talking, people smoking and holding their phone. I mean they're multitasking while they're driving," said Diana Partner.

Partner said for a while her distraction was putting on makeup on her morning commute to work. That is, until she got into an accident.

"It was a hard lesson learned," she said.

But does it have to take a crash to get drivers to curb their behavior and put down the cell phone or whatever else is taking up their attention?

A hands-free cell phone device doesn't keep drivers any safer, either

A university study found that using a cell phone in any way, be it hands-free or hand-held, distracts a driver as much as being legally drunk.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly recently approved the texting ban, but other states have had similar laws on the books for years.

Several states have been on the texting ban bandwagon since 2007.

So while many say the texting ban is a step in the right direction, they say much more may be needed down the road to keep drivers safe.

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