The number of people who text while driving in Southern California has roughly doubled since a state law went into effect banning the practice, according to an Auto Club study released today.
The percentage of people who text or use electronic devices such as smart phones while behind the wheel rose to 2.7 percent in the latest Automobile Club of Southern California survey of drivers, about double where it was when the state’s ban went into effect in January 2009.
The results point to a need for tougher penalties to discourage people from texting and driving, according to the Auto Club.
“Stronger penalties, more driver awareness and education and heightened enforcement are needed to significantly reduce one of the most dangerous activities a driver can do while on the road,” said Steve Finnegan, the Auto Club’s government affairs manager. “The rise in texting indicates that the growth of texting overall has outpaced current enforcement efforts and overcome the current law, which should be strengthened to enhance safety.”
Finnegan said drivers who are caught texting are fined $20 for a first offense, and no points are assessed to the driver’s record.
According to the survey, young women are most likely to be texting behind the wheel, at 4.3 percent. The percentage of young men who text and drive was 2.1 percent, the survey found.