California banned texting while driving and drivers from using handheld cell phones 5 years ago. The Automobile Club of Southern California has released new findings looking at how well the bans are working out.
The results might be surprising: texting while driving is apparently up 126 percent, even though handheld mobile use is down 57 percent.
The surveys were conducted starting 2008, before the bans took effect. Distracted driving was the cause of 18 percent of all fatal crashes in 2010, according to the National Highway Safety Administration. Besides California, 10 other states have banned the use of handheld mobile phones and 41 states prohibit drivers from texting.
Filmmaker Werner Herzog was recently commissioned by AT&T to produce a mini-doc as part of a public service announcement urging drivers to put down their phones. The videos will be shown at 40,000 high schools throughout the country:
So what should you do if you see someone texting while driving? Officer Vince Ramirez says you can report that person if you snag their license plate number, but officers can't issue a citation unless they witness the incident.
"There is 1-800-TELL-CHP number where they can leave the vehicle license plate number, time and description," said Ramirez. "The driver gets a letter in the mail telling them that someone reported them. We have to witness the violation to issue a citation."
Have you stopped texting while driving since the ban? Can texting while driving penalties curb the behavior?
KPCC's online polls are not scientific surveys of local or national opinion. Rather, they are designed as a way for our audience members to engage with each other and share their views. Let us know what you think on our Facebook page, facebook.com/kpcc, or in the comments below.
Steven Bloch, Ph.D.,Traffic Safety Researcher, Automobile Club of Southern California
Officer Vince Ramirez, Southern Division, California Highway Patrol