Crime

Distracted driving tickets on the rise in Pennsylvania

According to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, from 2014 to 2015, citations for distracted driving violations in Pennsylvania increased by 43 percent, going from 1,998 to 2,857.
According to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, from 2014 to 2015, citations for distracted driving violations in Pennsylvania increased by 43 percent, going from 1,998 to 2,857. The Associated Press, file

Put down your smartphone. Take out the ear buds. Law enforcement in Pennsylvania is putting a stop to driving practices that take the focus off the road and onto electronics.

“Yes, definitely there is also an increased enforcement awareness, especially since a new law was created to prohibit it,” said Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller. “It can sometimes feel irresistible for everyone to break the tether of technology, but it is dangerous on the road. Using a cellphone while driving delays a driver’s reaction as much as a BAC of .08 percent.”

According to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, from 2014 to 2015, citations for distracted driving violations increased by 43 percent, going from 1,998 to 2,857. That’s almost double the 1,437 citations in 2012. In Pennsylvania, all drivers are prohibited from texting while driving, which includes sending, reading or writing a text-based message or email, and from wearing or using headphones or earphones while the car is in motion.

Of those, about two-thirds of the tickets went to men.

When it comes to age, the biggest offenders were 20-somethings, with 40 percent of citations going to that age bracket. The next highest were in their 30s, picking up 26 percent of the tickets. Teens got just 7 percent.

“We do a Don’t Text and Drive campaign that we have taken into the schools as well to make the youth aware of these dangers,” said Parks Miller.

If you think you can avoid state police and be fine, you’re wrong. Pennsylvania troopers did not issue the most tickets. That distinction went to local departments.

You are also more likely to get a ticket between 8 a.m. and noon, and in the month of May.

Central Pennsylvania drivers also seem to be a little less likely than their more urban neighbors. Centre County came in No. 11 on a chart of county-level data. The majority of citations were issued in Philadelphia’s surrounding counties, Montgomery, Bucks and Chester, Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County and York County. The data did not include Philadelphia County citations.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

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