AAA News Release: 3/19/2014

AAA RELEASES ANALYSIS OF SECOND-YEAR PA TEXTING LAW ENFORCEMENT

PHILA DROPS FROM TOP SPOT BU REGION LEADS STATE IN TEXTING TICKETS

PHILADELPHIA, PA (March 19, 2014) –Philadelphia has droppedfrom the top spot and now is second to Pittsburgh in the number of citationsissued for texting while driving, according to an analysis by AAA Mid-Atlantic. The city reports that 91 citations were written in the second year ofPennsylvania’s law against texting while driving (March 2013 through February2014), compared to 202 in the first year.  However, when includingsuburban counties, the entire Philadelphia region still leads the state for thenumber of citations, with a total 428 for the region, about 35% ofPennsylvania’s total.

 

AAAMid-Atlantic requested data from the state Administrative Office of PA Courtsand Philadelphia Police in observation of the law’s second-year anniversary,March 8th, and in advance of national DistractedDriving Month, which is observed in April.  In the second full year ofthe law being in effect, there were a total of 1,206 citations issued acrossthe state.  With the second year of the no-texting law in effect, mostcounties notched increases in the number of citations, or stayed close to parwith the first year.  Philadelphia was one of only a few to see a largedrop (202 down to 91); another was Luzerne County (30 down to 17). 

 

“Are Philadelphians puttingthe phones down more when they drive?  We hope so,” said Jenny M.Robinson, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.“Drivers are getting the message: it’s dangerous to text behind thewheel.  Enforcement is important as well, but the goal is to changebehavior and get people to stop driving distracted - not just wait until theydo it and then see them get a ticket.”

 

TOP PENNSYLVANIA METRO AREAS

Ranked by Number of Texting While Driving Citations

 

 

Metro Area

Counties Included

Population

Total texting citations in 1st year (March 2012-Feb. 2013)

Total texting citations in 2nd year (March 2013-Feb. 2014)

1

Philadelphia Metro

Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery counties

4,050,793

545

(243 from city +

302 from suburbs)

428

(91 from city+ 337 from suburbs)

 

2

Pittsburgh Metro

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

2,360,733

 

196

232

3

York-Hanover Metro

York County

437,846

65

61

4

Harrisburg-Carlisle Metro

Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry counties

553,980

53

59

5

Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton Metro

Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton counties

827,121

59

48

6

State College Metro

Centre

155,171

21

43

7

Lancaster Metro

Lancaster

526,823

29

38

8

Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro

Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wyoming

563,629

 

52

37

9

Reading Metro

Berks County

413,491

17

33

10

Chambersburg Metro

Franklin County

151,275

22

18

SOURCES: AdministrativeOffice of Pennsylvania Courts; Philadelphia Police; U.S. Census Bureau

 

TOP 15 PENNSYLVANIA COUNTIES

Ranked by Number of Texting While Driving Citations

SOURCE: Administrative Officeof Pennsylvania Courts; Philadelphia Police

 

 

County

Total texting citations in first  year

(March 2012 through Feb. 2013)

Total texting citations in second year

(March 2013 through Feb 2014)

1

Allegheny

108

126

2

Montgomery

110

125

3

Philadelphia

202

91

4

Chester

48

83

5

Bucks

66

66

6

Delaware

74

63

7

York

64

61

8

Centre

21

43

9

Lancaster

29

38

10

Washington

23

38

11

Berks

17

33

12

Dauphin

31

32

13

Westmoreland

21

32

14

Lehigh

31

29

15

Cumberland

15

20

Therewere 57 distracted driver deaths in Pennsylvania in 2012, two fewer than theprevious year.  And PennDOT reports 1,096 crashes involving cell phones in2012, compared to 1,152 crashes in 2011.  Pennsylvania’s law against texting while driving tookeffect March 8, 2012, with AAA’s support. The motor club has long been at the forefront of the distracted drivingissue, with a national campaign to pass texting bans in all 50 states. 

 

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

 

AAA’s own recentpoll of licensed drivers in Pennsylvania, found that 43% of respondents saiddistracted drivers were their No. 1 fear on the road.  By comparison, 23%of respondents said drunk drivers were their biggest concern.

 

The AAAFoundation for Traffic Safety’s research into cognitivedistraction also shows that just because adriver’s eyes are on the road and hands are on the wheel does not mean they aresafe – hands-free is not risk-free (video).

 

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

·       Prohibits as a primary offenseall drivers from using an Interactive Wireless Communication Device (IWCD) tosend, read or write a text message.

·       Defines an IWCD as a wirelessphone, personal digital assistant, smart phone, portable or mobile computer orsimilar devices that can be used for texting, instant messaging, emailing orbrowsing the internet. 

·       Defines a text-based messageas a text message, instant message email or other written communicationcomposed or received on an IWCD.

·       Institutes a $50 fine forconvictions under this section.

·       Makes clear that this lawsupersedes and preempts any local ordinances restriction the use of interactivewireless devices by drivers.

·       This law took effect on March8, 2012.

 

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


Contact: Jenny Robinson
Phone: (215) 610-7312