Is PA's Texting Law Making an Impact?

By Jim Madalinsky

Published 03/26 2014 05:16PM

Updated 03/26 2014 05:30PM

DUNCANSVILLE, BLAIR COUNTY - Pennsylvania’s texting while driving ban has been on the books for two years and one local law enforcement official is frustrated. Between March of 2013 and February of this year a little more than 1,200 texting and driving citations were issued in the entire state, and they say that number isn't nearly enough.
“We only have gone a portion of the way. We need to go the rest of the way,” Duncansville Police Chief James Ott says.
Duncansville Police Chief James Ott is talking about Pennsylvania's texting and driving ban...
He says unless the person they pull over openly admits to texting...there's not much they can do to cite them.
“You can go through a search warrant. There are things you can do but for a standard traffic violation you're not going to do that because you don't have the time,” Ott says.
From March of 2013 to February of this year there were 1,206 texting citations statewide according to AAA.
That's down from 1,302 in the law's first year.
Those numbers are far below states like New York, which issued more than 55,000 during that time period.
 “Pretty much it's just accustomed to everyone. You look over and everyone has their phone out,” Rachel Claar says.
 “As the mother of 3 children it's extremely frustrating. I don't like to see it at all,” Kelly Yeager says.
Ott says the difference is New York and other states are hands free. That allows police to cite distracted drivers the second they see their phone.
An option they don't have now.
“You drive down the road and you can see them everyday. The problem is deciding are they placing a call? Are they texting? There are some hurdles to get through in order to prosecute,” Ott says.
But still some say regardless of the law, it won't stop people from taking their eyes off the road and on to their phones.
“They can change laws all they want but I'm pretty sure nothing is going to change it,” Claar says.
In our region Centre County had the most citations issued last year with 43 according to AAA. That's actually in the top ten in the state. Somerset County issued 7, while Blair County had just 6.

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