Rhode Island cites 185 drivers for texting
In the first year since Rhode Island banned texting while driving, local authorities have issued 185 citations to distracted drivers, and collected nearly $11,000 in fines.
The majority of these fines were handed out by state police troopers. The Rhode Island State Police issued a total of 89 tickets and $5,980 in fines. State Police Capt. Darren Delaney was proud of his troopers’ efforts to reduce texting while driving.
“I think that just by looking at our numbers we were very aggressive initially when this campaign started, and we’ll continue to be vigilant with it,” he said
Capt. Delaney compared the behavior to drunk driving, saying troopers need to be vigilant and look at all the signs before pulling over a driver.
“It takes a lot of observation on the trooper’s part,” Delaney said. The signals that someone is texting behind the wheel, such as erratic driving and weaving between lanes are similar to those that show a motorist is drunk.”
It is with no surprise that larger cities account for the majority of tickets. Police in Warwick handed out 17 tickets while in Providence, 12 drivers were cited for texting while driving.
Johnston police officers seem to be the toughest enforcers, as 11 tickets for a total of $610 in fines were given, the most per resident and the most per officer in any community.
Since November 2009, it is illegal for a driver in Rhode Island to use wireless handset to compose, read or send text messages while operating a motor vehicle on any public street or public highway. If caught, drivers are facing fines from $85 to $125, but he violation is not added to motorists’ driving records or reported to their insurance companies.
Source: WPRI, February 17, 2011