York County ranks sixth in the state for the number of citations issued for texting while driving in the year since it became illegal in Pennsylvania, according to an analysis by AAA Mid-Atlantic.
York County's 65 citations fell behind Philadelphia (243 citations), Montgomery (111 citations), Allegheny (110 citations), Delaware (75 citations) and Bucks (67 citations).
Since the law went into effect March 8, 2012, there were 1,302 citations issued statewide, according to the analysis.
The motor club, which lobbies for texting bans in all 50 states and supported the change in Pennsylvania, also examined the number of distracted driving fatalities for 2012.
The number decreased from 59 deaths in 2011 to 57 deaths in 2012.
Primary offense: Texting while driving is a primary offense, which means no other violation is needed for a citation to be issued, with a $50 fine.
But people who are texting while driving are often cited with secondary violations, the result of their distracted driving, said patrol Sgt. Rob Kelly with the York barracks of the state police.
Telltale signs include weaving in and out of lanes or coming to an abrupt stop because they don't see the vehicle in front of them stopped, he said, though officers can also identify texters because they see what they're doing in their cabins.
"A lot of times, people quick try to hide their phones," Kelly said.
Texting while driving follows the same pattern of other
distracted behaviors, including eating, applying makeup or picking up something that was dropped while driving, he said.
"It's not limited to highways," he said. "People are doing it wherever."
It's dangerous everywhere, he added, because people underestimate the distance a vehicle can travel in a second of taking their eyes off the road.
Kelly said the citations issued in York will serve as the best deterrent against texting while driving, and he regularly reminds officers to look out for it.
"When something gets enforced, it has an impact on the behavior," he said.
People who were cited or know someone who was cited are less likely to do it.
"There's greater awareness with enforcement ... a better chance of eliminating undesirable behaviors," he said.
-- Reach Christina Kauffman at email@example.com.