It may be illegal, but Californians are still breaking the law. Texting behind the wheel has tripled in Southern California since 2009, according to a survey from AAA.
Although the percentage is relatively low at 4.1 percent, it is three times higher than it was when the California state Assembly enacted a texting ban.
In January of 2009, only 1.4 percent of people said they drove while manipulating a wireless device. Last month AAA found that 4.1 percent of drivers could be texting at any given time while on the road.
Tickets for first time offenders are $25, but increases in price with time. Subsequent convictions are $50, and with penalty assessments the fine could be triple the fine, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
“We write a lot of tickets for it,” Lt. Andra Brown from the San Diego Police Department said. “It’s something we take very seriously.”
Texting and driving is a primary reason for stopping, meaning police officers can pull over any driver they see texting or talking without a hands-free device.
Brown said often times people try to conceal that they are texting, but because they realize the inherent danger they end up putting their phone in direct visibility.
“The fact that they’re trying to hide it means they shouldn’t be doing it,” she said. “You obviously know that you’re doing something wrong. They’re giving themselves away.”
The combination of texting and driving has proved to be lethal – for both drivers and others on the road. A study performed last year by University of North Texas Health Science Center found that texting while driving was responsible for more than 16,000 deaths between 2002 and 2007.