Enforcement low on texting ban

There's No Substitute for Experience

In our last post we focused on how despite texting while driving bans, many teens still take the risk and text while driving anyway. In fact, the difference between those states with bans versus those without was rather small, pointing to the fact that many drivers will still engage in risky behaviors, even if those behaviors are not only dangerous, but also illegal.

In general, when looking at texting while driving bans and why drivers are deciding to skirt around the rules, some think it may be the lack of enforcement.

In looking at the numbers, here in Tennessee state troopers started recording texting while driving citations on Jan. 1, 2010. In the first four months there were 946 citations issued to drivers. This comes out to less than 30 citations issued in a month. Take into account the number of drivers on Tennessee roadways each day and this low number of citations would leave many to believe there are plenty of drivers who are still texting and just not getting caught.

In terms of issuing citations, since the early 2000s, when texting bans started to be enacted around the country, how to enforce the laws were always of concern among police and state troopers. Unlike speeding, where an officer can literally see a vehicle speeding down the road, it is not always as easy to see someone texting, especially since the ban has led many drivers to try to conceal their phones in their laps.

Additionally, the goal of the texting bans is not necessarily to issue citations, said Justin McNaull, the director of state relations for auto club AAA. Rather, it is to change behavior.

But with people not thinking they will get caught due to the lack of enforcement, it appears it is harder to change behaviors. Even with the majority of people knowing texting while driving is dangerous, many still do it.

As a driver in Tennessee, what do you think of the texting ban? What else can be done to deter distracted driving?

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