Texting While Driving: It’s Usually Illegal But Enforcement is Difficult


It’s illegal to text while driving in 41 states and the District of Columbia, but that doesn’t stop drivers from doing it — and enforcing those laws can be difficult, says NPR. New York State police have been using unmarked SUVs to catch drivers. “You can see down into the car,” says trooper Clayton Howell. “It’s a bird’s-eye view as opposed to being at the same level.”

University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee economics professor Scott Adams says that when states pass texting and driving laws, people stop texting and driving for a little while — and then they start doing it again pretty quickly. “What we saw was that there was an initial decline in accidents once texting bans were passed. That was quite substantial,” he says. “But after a few months, there was no effect.” The consequences for getting caught are often pretty light. In some states, the police can’t even pull you over unless you’re doing something else wrong, like not using your turn signal. In New York, you can get pulled over for cellphone violations, but the fines start at $50. You do get five points on your license, but it takes 11 points before your license is suspended.

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