AAA: Philadelphia leads the state in texting while driving citations
According to a recent analysis by AAA Mid-Atlantic, the year old texting-while-driving ban in Pennsylvania doesn’t appear to be as strong of a deterrent for texting motorists in the City of Brotherly Love when compared to the rest of the state.
Given the level of driver distraction associated with texting while driving, this AAA analysis is likely very distressing news for safety advocates in the Philadelphia area.
Pennsylvania texting-while-driving citations
Specifically, the AAA discovered that drivers in Philadelphia County easily led the state in the number of texting-while-driving citations during the first year of Pennsylvania’s texting ban. For instance, Philadelphia motorists were issued 243 texting-while-driving tickets during the period examined, which represents nearly one-fifth of the total 1,302 tickets issued statewide – and well above the second-place county, Montgomery, which only had 111 texting-while-driving tickets.
The high number of texting-while-driving citations may not be surprising to many given the large population of Philadelphia. However, when comparing the number of citations issued in Philadelphia to its proportion of the state’s population – as estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau – Philadelphia’s texting-while-driving ticket rate was still 50 percent higher than that of Pennsylvania as a whole, according to the Patch Network.
Cellphone use by drivers in Philadelphia
Unfortunately, the problems associated with cellphone use is nothing new as lawmakers have been trying to get Philadelphia drivers to put down their phones for some time.
In fact, the City of Philadelphia passed its own ban on handheld cellphone use while driving in 2009. But, when the statewide texting-while-driving prohibition went into effect last year, it expressly preempted all municipal ordinances related to driver cellphone use – essentially nullifying Philadelphia’s driver cellphone ban in the process.
Consequently, the current statewide texting-while-driving ban, which includes Philadelphia, now prohibits any driver on a Pennsylvania roadway to use an interactive wireless communications device (IWCD) – which includes wireless phones, smartphones and computers – to read, write or send any text message, instant message or email. It is important to note that the statutory definition of what constitutes an IWCD does not include systems integrated into motor vehicles or affixed to buses, nor does it include GPSs or other navigation systems.
Tragically, as the recent AAA analysis indicates, many Philadelphia drivers continue to text behind the wheel regardless of laws. If you or a loved one has been injured by a driver distracted by his or her cellphone, it may be helpful to speak to an experienced distracted driving injury attorney to be advised of your rights and options given your circumstances.