PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Put your cell phone away when you get behind the wheel.

A statewide ban on texting while driving is now in effect, carrying a $50 fine. The new law went into effect at midnight Thursday.

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The new law pertains to phones, computers or other devices that can send texts, emails or similar messages. Police are not allowed to seize the devices when they write tickets.

Police hope the texting while driving ban will help cut down on what some see as an epidemic of distracted driving.

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“I run through Carnegie every day,” said Chief Jeff Harbin, of the Carnegie Police Department. “I’m nearly hit by vehicles, by people who are talking on their cell phone, texting on their cell phone, whatever because they are not paying attention.”

Harbin says the ban on texting is a start but he’d like to see a total ban on using communication devices while driving. For instance, it’s still legal for drivers to talk on a cell phone or scroll through contacts to find a number.

“I fail to see the difference between dialing a number or scrolling through your Blackberry trying to find a number and texing,” said Chief Harbin. “I believe it’s the same distraction no matter what.”

Police Chief Talks About New Texting Ban (3/7/12)
Texting While Driving A Primary Offense In Pa. (3/7/12)
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