Stroudsburg, Monroe County - Police aren't ticketing many people under Pennsylvania's new texting and driving law. The law bans texting, emailing or web browsing while driving. It went into effect last month. Since then, State Police say they've handed out less than fifty tickets for the offense.
Despite the law, people are still texting while driving. Thomas Madrazo of Independence Driving School noted, "It only takes less than two seconds of your eyes off the road to get into an accident."
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reports that in 2010 drivers using handheld phones contributed to more than 1,000 crashes. "They have trouble staying on the road, they miss things, they don't see things coming up in time to react properly." Said Dave Lortz of Independence Driving School.
PennDOT statistics show teen drivers text behind the wheel the most. Drivers Education Teacher Doc Martinelli works with teens often. He explained, "They are young. A lack of life experience is what makes them feel they are invincible."
A Governors Highway Safety Association study showed texting bans don't change much behavior because they are hard to enforce. "The way it is written presents a lot of challenges," said Lt. Brian Kimmins of the Stroud Area Regional Police.
Kimmins explained that while texting, email and internet use are illegal behind the wheel, dialing, using GPS or even playing a game don't fall under the ban. He said, "Proving actually what it was that was going on, that becomes a little bit difficult."
Police have to get a search warrant to look at your phone or records. That's something they will likely only do if there is a crash. "I don't even want to call them accidents. They are crashes. These could have been avoided by not texting," said Martinelli.
Police and driving teachers say they would support a law banning all hand held device use while driving. Martinelli said, "New York State has it. New Jersey has it. We come up a little short."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recommended that all hand held device use be banned behind the wheel.
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