There's a need to toughen the law
It took a very long time and an unknown number of crashes before state lawmakers, three years ago, finally got around to outlawing texting while driving.
They should not wait as long to make the law enforceable in practice.
Lawmakers got it partially right when they made texting a primary offense. That is, police could stop a texting driver for that alone, without having to cite another violation.
But, because the law does not ban drivers' use of hand-held cellphones or other devices, it is difficult for police to determine if a driver is texting or dialing a cellphone, which is legal.
Experience over the first two years of the texting ban bears out the need for toughening the anti-texting law.
According to AAA, which compiled numbers from court systems, police in Pennsylvania issued 1,206 citations for texting while driving in 2013 - 96 fewer than in 2012.
Pennsylvania has 9 million licensed drivers. New York State has 11 million licensed drivers. In New York, where it is illegal to use a hand-held communications device while driving, police issued 55,000 texting-while-driving citations in 2013. Clearly, a prohibition on using hand-held devices is necessary for police effectively to enforce a ban on texting.
Such a bill has been introduced in the Senate. It would bar the use of all hand-held devices by all drivers, except in emergencies, and would bar drivers younger than 18 from using even hands-free communications devices while driving.
This should be an easy one for lawmakers. They should give police the help they need to enforce a law that saves lives.