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1-yr ban on texting while driving brings only 1000 citations

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, @CatherineH_WFMZ, chawley@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 11 2013 06:51:43 AM CDT

1-yr since ban on texting and driving

Friday was the one-year anniversary of the ban on texting while driving in Pennsylvania.

Since the bill was passed, only about 1,000 citations have been issued, but some officials say it's helping keep our roadways safer.

Nationwide it's a pretty grim statistic: deaths of 16-and 17-year-old drivers in traffic accidents have spiked.

According to a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, in the first six months of 2012, the numbers were up 19% compared to the same period the year before. Some experts are pointing the finger at distracted driving.

"This is an issue that is probably one of the reasons that we are seeing an increase in accidents with teenagers," shared Eric Lech, Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit Coordinator of Driver Education. "We do definitely tell them that texting is not appropriate when they are behind the wheel and while they're driving."

The study shows Pennsylvania as one of 17 states where the fatal wrecks are actually decreasing. It's a trend that's been going on for 10 years.

"With teens, we have a combination of a texting ban, who can be allowed in the car with them, requirements of seat belts," explained State Sen. Lisa Boscola.

She credits restrictions placed on teen drivers over the last decade for the drop in deaths.

"We're ahead of the curve as far as other states are concerned with this approach," shared Boscola. "We're actually reducing the number of teen fatalities.  I think it's wonderful."

Last March, the texting ban went into effect in the commonwealth. Over the past year only 1,059 citations were issued. Some say it's a hard law to enforce.

"That's actually saving lives beyond teens, the texting ban which is to me a common sense bill that should have been done years ago," added Boscola.

Officials say education could be the key to keeping our roads safer.

"For parents to be able to sit down, talk to their teens about how to manage their technology in an appropriate way when they're in the car is certainly something that is very important and helpful," urged Lech.