Catchy ‘feel good’ headlines of texting bans fill the front pages of many papers. But the reality of it – texting bans are unenforceable. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey cited that the law is very difficult to enforce. In reality, the law is not only difficult, but rather impossible to enforce. Why?
Reality. The texting ban does not include dialing and making phone calls. Holding a phone does not constitute an offense. This is nothing new – everyone knows this. Imagine the tough position for law enforcement to pull someone over for “texting” while the driver explains he/she was scrolling through the address book or looking for a phone number. Now think of the painful legalities of this. Will a court seek a warrant to search your phone history for a $20 fine? Of course not. The texting while driving ban is pointless and I’d question if police would even want to challenge a driver who was holding a phone.
People between the age of 18 to 24 average about 110 text messages per day. They will continue to text regardless of what laws are on the table as they have in other states where the same types of legislation was rolled out. California and Washington were two of the first states to implement such a bill and it is not surprising that the legislation provided no decrease in crashes. On March 8th, 2012, Pennsylvania jumped on board with the bill.
In 2010, 11 Pennsylvania deaths were blamed on handheld phones. Compare that to over 200 deaths from collisions with deer – the largest distraction for drivers in PA.
Distracted drivers are the reason for Harrisburg to push the texting ban. If this is really the reason, will Harrisburg ban other distractions? How about children in the vehicle? Spouses? What about road signs, food and drink, makeup, and the radio?
A ban on texting while driving ban is unenforceable, police hate it, and it will do nothing to make roads safer. We will see this fact in the annual data once it is published.