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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.

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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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