In California, police take cellphone driving violations seriously. Just last month, agencies across the state partnered to crack down on distracting behavior at the wheel, with numerous tickets handed out to drivers caught texting or talking on their phones. In California, enforcement is easier because current law bans all handheld cellphone usage, not just texting.
In the rest of the country, this just isn’t the case, as evidenced further by a survey from USA Today. Researchers queried various state police entities around the United States, and they found that enforcement of laws against texting and driving leaves much to be desired. In fact, the problem is so dramatic that many states as a whole issue an average of less than one texting ticket every day.
In Louisiana, an average of 18 citations have been handed out every month since the bill’s passage in 2008, while North Dakota’s average since 2011 (when a ban was enacted) is only six. Tennessee has posted about 24 per month. Clouding the issue is the fact that some states don’t track this specific statistic.
There could be a host of reasons for this trend. Officers explain the difficulties of pulling someone over who is taking pains to hide their phone, but one other factor for a small number of tickets might be somewhat hidden by the data. A Louisiana State Police Captain explains that many tickets get issued for the offense the texting leads to, but not the texting itself. For instance, someone who swerves out of their lane would be cited for that but the record wouldn’t reflect the individual’s texting behavior.