Texting while driving on the rise in California
A recent survey from the Automobile Club of Southern California seems to show that 15 months after the state banned texting while driving, things are right back where they started.
In 2008, three Auto Club surveys showed that approximately 1.4% of motorists were texting while driving. After California’s texting ban took effect in January 2009, two different surveys indicated that texting while driving had dropped significantly to about 0.5% of all motorists, a drop of nearly 70%. The latest surveys in 2010 show the situation is almost back to the numbers prior the texting ban to 1.1%.
“These results are disappointing,” said Steven Bloch, Ph.D., the Auto Club’s senior researcher. “The fact that we’re seeing a statistically significant rise in texting despite the state ban indicates that additional efforts are needed to help deal with the problem,” he said. “It’s just over a year after California’s texting ban was implemented, and texting is rising toward the level it was before the law.”
Part of the problem is the difficulty to enforce a texting ban. It is easier to catch a driver using a handheld cell phone than to catch one typing on his phone. In 2009, the California Highway Patrol issued about 11,600 hand-held cell phone citations each month, compared to only 150 citations per month for texting while driving.
The Auto Club hopes new Senate Bill 1475, which would increase the fine for texting while driving from $20 to $100 plus court costs and one point on a motorist’s driving record, will get approved so that drivers get more discouraged from texting while driving.
“Moving violations typically require the DMV to impose a point, and there is little reason that this dangerous traffic violation should be treated differently than others,” said Bloch. “Studies have established that imposing points on driving records is a very effective deterrent to hazardous driving.”
The Auto Club analysis was the first examination of the long-term effects of a U.S. texting law.
Source: AAA Southern California Press Release, April 28, 2010