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.
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.
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.