AAA report on texting while driving has Phila County at top

PHILADELPHIA, PA –The Philadelphia region leads the state for the number of citations written during the first six months of Pennsylvania’s new no-texting-while-driving law, according to an analysis by AAA Mid-Atlantic. There were a total of 796 citations issued across the state during that period. Of that number, 355 total tickets – nearly half - were written in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties together. The region has about a third of the state’s population.

AAA requested data from the state and added information from Philadelphia police. Pa.’s law against texting while driving took effect March 8th and is a primary offense with a $50 fine.

The motor club has long been at the forefront of the distracted driving issue, with a national campaign to pass texting bans in all 50 states. In Pennsylvania, AAA closely supported Senator Tommy Tomlinson’s bill which was signed into law November 9th, 2011 by Governor Corbett. AAA Mid-Atlantic sponsored 20 billboards in the Philadelphia region, and five in the Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton/Bloomsburg area for four weeks, from early March to early April, to inform motorists.

“We think education is really the key to keeping our roads safer. 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,’ said Jenny M. Robinson, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

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)

Philadelphia Metro

Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia counties

Population

4,030,926

Total texting citations in 1st 6 months

355

Pittsburgh Metro

Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington, Westmoreland counties

Population

2,359,746

Total texting citations in 1st 6 months

111

Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton Metro

Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton counties

Population

824,916

Total texting citations in 1st 6 months

38

York-Hanover Metro

York County

Population

436,770

Total texting citations in 1st 6 months

34

Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro

Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wyoming

Population

563,223

Total texting citations in 1st 6 months

34

Harrisburg-Carlisle Metro

Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry counties

Population

552, 911

Total texting citations in 1st 6 months

31

SOURCE: Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts; Philadelphia Police; U.S. Census Bureau

TOP TEN PENNSYLVANIA COUNTIES

Ranked by Number of Texting While Driving Citations

(first six months of law effective, 3-8-12 through 9-8-12)

County: Total texting citations in 1st 6 months

Philadelphia: 156

Montgomery: 75

Allegheny: 58

Delaware: 52

Bucks: 42

York: 35

Chester: 30

Lehigh: 19

Dauphin, Lancaster, Luzerne: 17

Lackawanna: 15

*Note: Dauphin, Lancaster, Luzerne counties tied for 9th place with 17 texting citations each.

SOURCE: Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts; Philadelphia Police

According to federal research, sending or reading a text, takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field, blindfolded.

AAA’s own recent poll of licensed drivers in Pennsylvania, found that nearly 40% of respondents said distracted drivers were their No. 1 fear on the road. By comparison, 20% of respondents said drunk drivers were their biggest concern.

Ninety-four percent of drivers tell AAA they consider texting while driving a serious threat; however, more than one third of drivers (35 percent) admit to reading a text or email while driving in the past 30 days and more than a quarter of drivers (26 percent) admit to sending a message while driving in the past month. It’s “do as I say, not as I do.”

Specifics of Pennsylvania’s ban on text messaging that was supported by AAA:

•Prohibits as a primary offense all drivers from using an Interactive Wireless Communication Device (IWCD) to send, read or write a text message.

•Defines an IWCD as a wireless phone, personal digital assistant, smart phone, portable or mobile computer or similar devices that can be used for texting, instant messaging, emailing or browsing the internet.

•Defines a text-based message as a text message, instant message email or other written communication composed or received on an IWCD.

•Institutes a $50 fine for convictions under this section.

•Makes clear that this law supersedes and preempts any local ordinances restriction the use of interactive wireless devices by drivers.

•This law took effect on March 8, 2012.

AAA Mid-Atlantic serves 700,000 members in the Philadelphia (5-county) region and nearly four million members in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, with personal insurance, financial, automotive and travel services through 53 retail branches, regional operations centers and the internet, at www.aaa.com/community.