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Texting Ban Yields 800 Citations Statewide During First Six Months

Data suggests that Pennsylvania’s texting ban is either ineffective or Pennsylvania drivers rarely text behind the wheel.

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

HARRISBURG – In the six months after Pennsylvania banned texting while driving, police in the state issued fewer than 800 citations for the new offence.

Data from the Philadelphia Police and the Administration Office of Pennsylvania Courts shows the majority of the citations for taxing while driving were issued in the Philadelphia area. The city of Philadelphia led the way with 156 citations in the first six months while the suburban counties around the state’s largest city, including Bucks and Montgomery, accounted for another 200 citations.

Meanwhile, police in the Pittsburgh area cited only 111 drivers over the first six months and the Harrisburg metro area rang up only 31 citations during the same period – which is an average of slightly more than one ticket per week in that part of the state.

Pennsylvania’s texting ban took effect on March 8 of this year and is a primary offense with a $50 fine.

The citation data, compiled by AAA Mid-Atlantic, seems to reinforce the argument that texting bans are practically impossible to enforce and generally ineffective.  Drivers can avoid the fine by claiming they were searching their phone for a number to call, dialing a number or using their phone as a GPS device – all of which are still legal.

Adam Reed, spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Police, said it takes time for law enforcement and the public to get used to a new law – particularly one worded as specifically as the texting ban.

The law is better than the way it was before, which was absolutely nothing out there, nothing on the books as far as prohibiting texting,” Reed said.

Jenny Robinson, spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, which supports the texting ban, said the key to keeping roads safer is education drivers about the dangers of texting while behind the wheel.

“The goal is to change behavior and get people to stop texting behind the wheel, not just wait until they do it and then see them get a ticket,” she said.

TOP PENNSYLVANIA METRO AREAS Ranked by Number of Texting While Driving Citations (first six months of law effective, 3-8-12 through 9-8-12)


Metro Area Counties Included Population Total texting citations in 1st 6 months 1 Philadelphia Metro Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia counties 4,030,926 355 2 Pittsburgh Metro Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington, Westmoreland counties 2,359,746 111 3 Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton Metro Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton counties 824,916 38 4 York-Hanover Metro York County 436,770 34 5 Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wyoming 563,223 34 6 Harrisburg-Carlisle Metro Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry counties 552, 911 31

SOURCE: AAA Mid-Atlantic, using data from Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts; Philadelphia Police; U.S. Census Bureau

Contact Boehm at Eric@PAIndependent.com and follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.

Newtownian November 28, 2012 at 01:32 PM
The phone should not be allowed in hand. Only wireless Bluetooth device where the hands are free at most!
kevin November 28, 2012 at 01:40 PM
They just can't enforce it. I think they only people who actually got these tickets were honest/dumb enough to admit to the officer they were texting. It just needs to be more extreme than $50 if you admit it, if an officer sees you with a phone in your hand while driving you loose your license for 15 days on the spot. People drive like privileged idiots who think the world owes them something and everyone will lookout/move for them. Your car should NEVER go left of center
Liberty 1 November 28, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Good post Don. Right on the money.
Liberty 1 November 28, 2012 at 04:04 PM
It is all about the money. My son just received a ticket for "careless driving" - cost $111.00. What did he do? The police officer said he crossed over the double yellow lines. It was a small road and no other traffic, the cop saw him do this heinous act in his rear veiw mirror and turned around to chase him down. First question was were you texting? Second was - were you on the phone? Third was - were you dosing off? My son had no idea what he did wrong. His phone records show that he was not using it in any fashion. Of coarse we will fight it. The stats show that safety is not the issue it is the money collected. They do not need anything else to harass us with in order to raise revenue for bloated pensions.
Jane November 28, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Remember that the accident rate and death rate doesn't have just ONE case. A lot of things contribute to the rise and fall of the accident rate and death rate. Cars have become vastly more safe over the years, with better airbags and more automatic protections. We should have seen a *reduction* in the accident and death rate. Based on the statistics I've seen, what we are finding is that other contributing causes to accidents are decreasing, whereas texting as a contributing cause is increasing. I read those statistics with a really critical eye, hoping to find support for my position that opposes these laws. I'm with you that social pressure to change is more effective and more sensible than legislation.
Jane November 28, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Evidence is starting to show that it's not the act of holding the phone that causes the distraction, and that talking through a speakerphone or Bluetooth is just as bad. Carnegie Mellon did a study that showed that just listening to a cell phone conversation impaired driving. http://www.cmu.edu/homepage/computing/2009/summer/distracted-drivers.shtml I'm not necessarily advocating for any kind of law change, just awareness of the fact that you're impaired when on the phone whether it is in your hand or on Bluetooth.
kevin November 28, 2012 at 06:01 PM
so...your son went left of center, which is against the law, and in my opinion inexcusable and you want to fight it why? If you can't manage to stay in your lane of travel you either need to slow down to a speed where you can keep your vehicle in your own lane, or give up your drivers license. Funny how everyone follows those bothersome little rules when they take their drivers exam but fail to practice it day to day.
Liberty 1 November 29, 2012 at 12:45 AM
"so...your son went left of center, which is against the law, and in my opinion inexcusable and you want to fight it why?" Because. I can.
Leigh November 29, 2012 at 12:21 PM
People like you are the problem Liberty 1, because like so many parents today, there is no way your little angel could have broken the law. I would want an officer to stop someone for crossing into the lane of ONCOMING traffic. No other cars - at that moment. The officer asked those questions for an obvious reason. Get your head on straight.
Eve November 29, 2012 at 01:25 PM
You are so right, Leigh. It's that "not my child" mentality that will have her son living in her basement until he's 50. My children would be embarrassed if I expressed a desire to not have them held accountable for their actions. Good or bad.
Eve November 29, 2012 at 01:29 PM
"We"? How about giving your son a wonderful opportunity to stand on his own two feet?
Jane November 29, 2012 at 01:56 PM
As a proud young professional in my 30s, with degrees from top schools (Bachelors and law degree), supports a family, owns a home and has never been in any kind of legal trouble, nor received so much as a speeding ticket since sometime in the late 1990s, I want to tell Leigh and Eve how full of "ish" they are. Thank you to my Mom and Dad and for helping me fight traffic tickets as a kid. Didn't make a monster, a loser or a troll. Never hurt a soul on the road. Very good at sticking up for myself with local government, with credit card companies and Verizon and Comcast and all the rest.
kevin November 29, 2012 at 02:04 PM
So Jane, your saying that your parents taught you valuable lesson that it's only wrong if you cant get away with it?
Jane November 29, 2012 at 02:07 PM
On the contrary, my parents taught me that I don't need a babysitter to tell me when something is right from wrong, and that I can both learn from my mistakes (after all, fighting a ticket takes work and requires effort and inconvenience) and yet keep my money in my pocket. And after all, you don't get a ticket every time you speed or cross the line - the TICKET is really the item teaching you it's only wrong when you don't get away with it. Unbelievable I guess to some parents who I guess are accustomed to teachers, TV and the police being the only people who teach their kids, and can't be bothered to teach lessons without those folks
kevin November 29, 2012 at 02:15 PM
okay, so it's money that matters. Got it. (writing this down for when my kids grow up) What your saying sounds like a tantrum, kick and scream enough and you can escape the punishment. Drug dealers work hard as well, doesn't make it right.
Jane November 29, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Kevin, you have to be pretty foolish to think going into our courts or municipal buildings kicking and screaming having a tantrum would fight a ticket very successfully. You have to be even more foolish to analogize using our legal system the way it was intended, to an illegal activity drug dealing.
kevin November 29, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Let me ask you something Jane, the whole topic started because someone did something wrong, illegal to be exact, and was ticketed for it. Did you go to court to fight tickets you were honestly guilty of? If so, thats no lesson to teach a child, and thats NOT what our legal system is built to stand for. By all means, if you disagree with what the officer says happened, stand up and fight and tell the truth, I know they're not infallible. But if you did something wrong, you need to own it, not half of it, not just the lesson, 100%.
Jane November 29, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Kevin, you said: "if you did something wrong, you need to own it, not half of it, not just the lesson, 100%." So let me ask YOU a question. How many times have you made a traffic error, accidental or otherwise, and gone into the police station to volunteer for a ticket? Sent in a check, unasked? After all, according to you, "if you do something wrong, you need to own it, not half of it, not just the lesson, 100%." Which would mean whether you got caught, or no, wouldn't it? How much do you owe in 100% of un-ticketed parking tickets, jaywalking fees, speeding, forget your turn signal once in awhile? One hundred percent, Kevin. Right? Thanks for the laugh!
kevin November 29, 2012 at 02:52 PM
How dare you! i always use my turn signal! Seriously though, i'm not going to bother any more, clearly your parents taught you to be infallible
CyD252 November 29, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Ok, I had to check out this claim. A football field is 100 yards long. That's 300 feet. So .... 300 feet in one second = 1 mile in 17.6 seconds = 204.5 miles per hour. So let's make it realistic... at 65mph, you'll cover about 95 feet (32 yards) in one second. I understand your point, but most of us have never driven anywhere at 204mph.
Tom Sofield November 29, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Northampton Police Have Trouble Enforcing Texting Law - http://northampton.patch.com/articles/police-have-trouble-enforcing-texting-law#c
Liberty 1 December 01, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Leigh - I didn't realize that you knew my son! He may not be an angel but he ALWAYS tells the truth. I believe him. If he had done wrong he would have owned up to it. All my boys were raised that way. I am sorry for you and Eve that you either were not that trustworthy with your parents or your own children were not taught that telling the truth is ALWAYS easier then lying. Eve - As far as living in the basment until he is fifty. He is welcomed to if he wants but he won't have to. He is a full time student at a local university AND works 30 or more hours a week. Unlike many you know I guess - he not only tells the truth, he is also a working, valuable member of society.
Liberty 1 December 01, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Do you all think that police are only corrupt when they take payoffs to look the other way or sell confiscated drugs etc.? The police who fabricate traffic violations in order to bring income to a small municipality are just as corrupt and do just as much harm. What I had heard about this particular cop was that he tickets everything. He is this particular townships revenue agent. Sorry, but that is wrong and will only grow worse as the idea of cutting spending at all levels is ignored and revenue raising the only way. The local pols know that they can not raise taxes too much so they hire one cop to do their dirty work. Most townships around me have one "revenue cop". Try cutting the number of police in these townships and regulate the number of times they can joyride in the fire engines. There are many things that can be cut but are not and so we are stuck with these "revenue cops", watch out because they will eventually get you too.
kevin December 01, 2012 at 01:56 AM
you don't seem to get it. You said yourself your son crossed the center line, so he can be ticketed for that. You seem to think a cop that gives a lot of tickets out is corrupt, maybe he's just doing his job!? If you son did nothing wrong, by all means, fight the ticket, but it sounds like your admitting he crossed, and making excuses like "there was no other traffic around" just pay the ticket and shut up
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Liberty 1 December 01, 2012 at 09:22 AM
Kevin, I don't think you get it. The cop said he crossed the double line while driving carelessly. I do not believe that cop. I take it you are the letter of the law type. That's fine but it has it's drawbacks.
kevin December 01, 2012 at 01:48 PM
I wouldn't describe myself as letter of the law, no. I thought from your first post both you and your son acknowledged that he went left of center but you were fighting the ticket anyway because you didn't think it was a big deal(thats how it read to me). If your son claims he didn't do it and you believe him, i'm sorry i misunderstood
G Daniels January 11, 2013 at 03:15 AM
Liberty 1 if I crossed the centerline and killed your son would that be ok? I was raised well, drive impecably. The law is there for a reason our roads are increasingly deadly. We need more cops and more tickets. I welcome it because if I make a mistake I should be held accountable. It makes our roads safer for all. There are way too many people who aggressively tailgate, drive too fast for road conditions, dont signal, dont yeild to mailmen & trash trucks trying to do their job, use merge lanes as a speed up and pass lane, and yes cross the center lane. Your boy is probably a good kid but everyone makes mistakes- get over it and lesson learned be thankful it wasnt a costly one. We'll see where you stand on the police when you need them. We just lost an innocent 10 year old girl to an idiot driver that should have gotten more tickets.
Liberty 1 January 13, 2013 at 01:26 AM
GD - As it is my son had his hearing recently and the Judge ruled in his favor. Who needs more police officers? More tickets? Why? Every force has at least one officer who is mainly a tax revenuer. Tickets have stopped becoming a deterrant when they started being a revenue stream. You know it as soon as the officer gives you a $120.00 ticket and then tells you warmly that he is giving you a break by not giving you points. If it is ticketable then it should have points given if called for - if not it is only a scam. As the local townships become squeezed fiscally the ticket scam will grow (as in my son's case).I am sorry for your loss but I am afraid that more tickets and even a suspended license does not stop stupidity.

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