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Police issued more distracted driving tickets than ever in 2014

Three years into Pennsylvania’s texting and driving ban, police are ticketing more drivers than ever before for this dangerous practice. Unfortunately, texting and driving remains a common practice, as anyone who has seen drivers obviously looking down at their phones can attest.

Last year, the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts reports, 1,410 drivers were cited for texting while driving, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. That is up from the 1,340 tickets issued in 2013 and the 1,190 tickets in 2012, the year the texting ban went into effect.

A separate statute prohibits wearing headphones while driving. Hard as it may be to believe, people do this; police issued 711 citations for listening to headphones while driving, a big increase over the 518 such tickets in 2013.

It should not be necessary to repeat by now that distracted driving is a reckless, thoughtless habit that puts the guilty and innocent people on the road at great risk of severe injury. Nevertheless, texting and driving remains distressingly common, including in Allegheny County, where officials counted 129 citations last year.

It is probable that the vast majority of chronic distracted drivers are not caught. In a survey by an insurance company in March, 30 percent of respondents admitted texting and driving. Four percent said they take selfies behind the wheel.

Law enforcement can help curb these bad habits, and it is possible that the texting-and-driving law is having an effect. But distracted drivers will probably continue to cause car crashes in 2015 and for the foreseeable future, killing and disabling their victims.

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