Pa. texting ban goes into effect Thursday

by: Robin Taylor Updated:


None - PITTSBURGH -- Pennsylvania's ban on texting takes effect on Thursday. If you're caught texting and driving, you could face a $50 fine.

Target 11 Consumer Investigator Robin Taylor got her hands on some simulator video that paints a pretty clear picture of how dangerous it can be.

She talked to officials at AT&T. They're the ones behind a nationwide campaign called Wait. The company has a simulator that it can take around the country, so young drivers can learn for themselves what happens when they text and drive.

Taylor said the statistics AT&T gave her were rather alarming: People who text and drive are 23 times more likely to be in a crash.

Here's another one: The average text takes a driver's eyes off the road for about five seconds. At 55, that's like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.

Yet everyone knows young drivers can be hard-headed, so AT&T has them try texting and driving in the simulator.

"You just put the glasses on, and it's a real car," said a teenager who had just tried the simulator. "So you put the glasses on, and you see the road, and they ask you to text a message to your friend or to anybody, and you have to focus on your text message when you're driving, by only looking up a couple seconds, like a real-life situation."

The young drivers soon found out they weren't as good at texting and driving as they thought they were.

"It really shows you how bad texting and driving is," said another teenager.

"When they're texting, they're not paying attention," said Kenneth Ellerbe, a Fire Chief taking part in the demonstration. "We see folks running stop signs, running into pedestrians, running into other vehicles, so texting and driving is extremely dangerous."

AT&T is encouraging drivers to take a pledge not to text and drive.

"Looking down at your device, getting your mind off what you're actually doing is very dangerous. If anything happened at that particular moment, you would not be able to react," said Larry Evans, an AT&T spokesman.

AT&T even has an app called Drive Mode. It will respond to a text, letting the sender know that you are driving and will get back to them when you've reached your destination.

The app is free for anyone with an AT&T phone.