Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has signed into law a statewide ban on texting while behind the wheel, making the Northeastern state the 35th U.S. state to prohibit texting while driving.

The new legislation will be in place in early March 2012 and the primary offense will carry a fine of $50.

Senate Bill 314 aims to put a halt to texting from behind the wheel and is intended to save lives, Corbett said during a bill-signing event in Harrisburg, Pa., according to a Nov. 10 statement from the Office of the Governor.

No text message is worth a human life. The message of this legislation is drive now and text later.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood applauded the move.

By signing this tough texting ban into law, Gov. Corbett has taken a critical step toward creating safer roads for everyone in Pennsylvania, said LaHood in an agency statement Nov. 14. 

Pennsylvania joins 34 other states, as well as the District of Columbia and Guam, in banning texting by all drivers.

Nine other states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have also banned hand-held cell phone use while driving.

The DOT in 2009 launched a nationwide campaign to combat the growing trend of dangerous distracted driving behavior in the country. As part of this effort, the agency rolled out a Web site to provide information on distracted driving.

The site highlighted three types of distraction to combat -- visual, manual and cognitive -- that involve taking eyes off the road, taking hands off the wheel, and taking the mind off driving.

The site also emphasized texting as particularly alarming because, unlike other forms of distracted behavior behind the wheel such as eating, drinking or changing the radio station, texting involves all of the aforementioned types of distraction.