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Texting While Driving is Increasing, Auto Club Study Finds

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A Caltrans worker allegedly texting while driving | Photo by Lord Jim via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr

A Caltrans worker allegedly texting while driving | Photo by Lord Jim via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
Over the past two years, the Automobile Club of Southern California has conducted a handful of studies before and after the texting-while-driving law went into affect, finding that texting dropped 70%, from 1.4% of motorists to 0.5%. But their latest study, conducted over the last month, finds that texting is on the rise again, more than doubling to 1.1%.

“These results are disappointing,” said Steven Bloch, Ph.D., the Auto Club’s senior researcher. “The fact that we’re seeing a statistically significant rise in texting despite the state ban indicates that additional efforts are needed to help deal with the problem. It’s just over a year after California’s texting ban was implemented, and texting is rising toward the level it was before the law.”

For the Auto Club's part, they are supporting a new Senate Bill that would increase the fine for texting from $20 to $100 (plus penalty assessments) and add a point to the motorists driving record.

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But will it be enforced? The Auto Club cites California Highway Patrol statistics, finding that about 150 texting citations are issued every month. Compare that to the 11,600 hand-held cell phone citations each month. Part of the reason for the lower texting numbers is that it's hard for police to see drivers.

And if you don't think texting while driving is bad, remember when a local reporter went to a test track and compared his driving performance while texting to while drunk? Yeah, texting can be just as dangerous as driving inebriated, he found.

As for driving while talking on a handheld cell phone, the Auto Club says about 3.6% of drivers still do it and that number really hasn't changed.

The Auto Club's methodology was to randomly sample about 4,000 vehicles that were passing by seven roadside sites in Orange County during different times of day. Sites were different types of roads from freeway exits to small city roadways.