California has not ticketed many offenders because it is relatively easy to conceal sending a text message while driving.
California drivers who shoot off a quick text message are not likely to get caught, according to statistics released by the California Highway Patrol.
The state implemented a ban on sending text messages while driving at the beginning of the year, and CHP said only 712 drivers have been cited by the agency statewide. By contrast, a California law that banned talking on a cell phone while driving without a hands-free accessory ticketed 112,966 drivers in its first 12 months.
The enforcement agency did not give official reasons for the relatively low number of tickets, but anecdotal evidence suggests it is easier for motorists to conceal sending a text message. Offenders face a $20 fine for the first offense and $50 fines for each subsequent offense.
A study by Harris Interactive showed that 92% of Americans think driving while being distracted by texting or sending an e-mail is as dangerous as driving after drinking alcoholic beverages. A study from the Public Policy Institute of California last year predicted the law would save up to 300 lives per year.
California is just the latest state to ban the communication method while driving, as Washington state outlawed texting in 2007. This was followed by Alaska, the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Minnesota, and New Jersey. Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are also considering legislation to ban the practice.
Text messaging has exploded over the last few years, and it is a big revenue generator for carriers like AT&T, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. A report from ABI Research said SMS will provide about $177 billion in global revenue in 2013.
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