The state of Alaska recently passed legislation prohibiting drivers from sending or reading text based messages while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. The bill banning texting and driving was passed by a large majority in both branches of the state’s legislature last session, but it was only signed into law this week by the state’s governor. House Bill 255, the original legislation, makes engaging in text based communication on a handheld device while behind the wheel of an automobile in motion a criminal offense in the state. While some legislators wanted to extend the ban to include all forms of communication on handheld devices, the bill’s sponsors feared that the bill would be too controversial to pass if it included that measure. The bill instead makes a point of differentiating between engaging in text based messaging while driving, which is now illegal, and dialing a number on a cellular phone, which is still legal in the state. Drivers desiring to send or read a text based message while behind the wheel must now wait until they arrive at their destination, legislators said, and others pointed out that cellular reception in non-metropolitan areas throughout the state is spotty or nonexistent anyway. Though the bill was opposed by only six legislators in the house and senate combined, it was debated until the last day of the legislative session, when it finally went to vote.