More states making texting while driving a primary offense
Oct 18, 2011
A growing number of states are making texting behind the wheel a more serious driving offense, traffic officials tell USA Today.
Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, told the newspaper that of the 34 states where texting while driving is against the law, 31 classify it as a primary offense. This means that police can pull over a driver specifically for texting. As a secondary offense, drivers can be pulled over for texting only if performing another act that's against the law, such as not wearing a seatbelt or speeding.
"With any highway safety law, primary is the most effective," said Adkins.
Chris Cochran, assistant director of marketing and public affairs for the California Office of Traffic Safety, told the paper that since his state made texting a primary offense, the conviction rate has surged, jumping from 2,845 in 2009 to 7,924 in 2010.
Being cited for texting while driving typically results in a fine, with the amount depending on the state. Convictions may also impact drivers' auto insurance rates.