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Philadelphia takes a stand on texting while driving

If you’re accustomed to using your cell phone to pass time as you drive, think again. At least when you’re driving through Philadelphia.

Enforcement of the city’s recent ban on all uses of handheld cell phones while driving began on Nov. 1.

However police were only issuing warnings over the past month to help raise awareness of the new law. Officers started handing out fines for violations for talking or texting on cell phones while behind the wheel on Dec. 1.

According to a Dec. 1 article on www. philly.com, a $75 fine will be issued with every code violation and can increase to as much as $300 if the fine goes unpaid.

The same rules apply to phone use while traveling on bicycles, scooters, skateboards and in-line skates. Headsets, such as Bluetooths, are permitted, since they are not viewed as being of much of a distraction.

While similar rules have been discussed for the entire state, no such law has been passed. Instead, only certain areas in Pennsylvania consider using a cell phone while driving illegal.

Students had mixed reactions when they found out about the new texting laws, but the majority were surprised to hear there is no statewide ban, even though the laws in other states can be just as confusing.

“In Maryland, you can read a text but not send one while driving,” senior Brittany Stuller said. “How are they going to know which you’re doing?”

While all cell phone use was banned, students had preferences on which method they found more dangerous.

“I think (texting) is almost worse than talking on the phone because you have to look away instead of looking straight ahead,” senior Sarah Calabria said. She said she was not surprised about the new rule, given the train crash in California on Sept. 12, 2008 that was a result of the conductor texting.

Others believe texting is safer and can sometimes actually serve as a means to keep the driver awake when making long and otherwise boring commutes.

“It’s a lot harder for me to unlock my phone than to text because I know where all the buttons are,” sophomore Kathryn Williams said. “My problem is that with talking (on the phone) you can’t put the phone down like you can with texting.”

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