California's texting-while-driving ban took effect at the beginning of 2009.
Did that make you put the phones down? No way. Of course the period since 2009 has seen the introduction of the most-popular, inexpensive iPhones yet, the 4 and 5 series, as well as the emergence of Samsung's popular Galaxy line of smartphones:
And so, texting-while-driving in the Golden State has been exploding.
The AAA of California recently released its annual roadside observational surveys. It found that handset-to-head cellphone use is down 57 percent since California's no-handsets-while-driving law took effect in 2008.
But texting while driving is up 126 since the 2009 ban. About 4 percent of drivers were doing it last year, the AAA says, compared to 1.5 percent before the law.
The folks at AAA note in a statement that there has been "tremendous growth in texting overall during the last five years."
Indeed, that might explain the reduction in behind-the-wheel headset-to-ear use.
AAA also says that there is "difficulty in enforcing the ban" on texting.
Indeed, that's been our pet peeve for a while: You can dial and pick-up calls legally, so how do cops know you're not doing that? It's a law about content, content police usually can't know.
And so of 790,000 mobile-phone-related citations issued by the CHP since 2008, only 30,000 involved texting-while-driving, the AAA says.
Steven A. Bloch, the AAA's traffic safety researcher:
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Officers experience difficulty in citing texting since motorists can conceal their behavior inside the vehicle much more easily than when using a handheld cell phone. This impacts how effective the law can be as a deterrent.
Laws that can't be enforced are stupid, needless laws. If you get into an accident because you were texting-and-driving you would face a whole world of legal hurt even without the no-texting rule.
That sounds like a deterrent to us.