LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Despite a law banning the activity, the Auto Club says the number of people who text while driving in Southern California has roughly doubled since it went into effect.

An Automobile Club of Southern California survey of drivers found that the percentage of people who text or use a device such as a smart phone while driving has gone up to 2.7 percent, about double where it was when the state’s ban went into effect in January 2009.

Tougher penalties are needed to discourage people from texting and driving, the Auto Club’s study concluded.

“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.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (10)
  1. joe says:

    A law is only effective if it’s enforced.

  2. ginny says:

    Joe, you’re right. And a law can only be enforced if it actually has teeth on it. In addition, our police and CHP driving down the roadand seen doing the same thing doesn’t help at all and that is seen everyday.

    1. vlt says:

      The law exempts emergency personnel such as police, but even still, I don’t think because “I saw the police officer” doing it is a good justification. The law needs to make it painful for those caught.

  3. Moni says:

    it’s not just young people, it’s all ages! And, I mean, ladies/men in their 50’s with their blackberries.

  4. Astonished says:

    The guy who slammed into the rear of my car and then took off was either on the phone or texting. They need to really enforce this law and make the fine huge, along with suspension of your license if your caught more than once.

  5. judy says:

    there should be higher fines, not to mention technology to allow speech to text so that people dont have to use their hands

    1. vlt says:

      I think the notion that because the technology is there some think they have to use it is a major contributing factor. I’ve owned cell/smart phones since the early days, but I was driving before they were available to the general public. In those days if we needed to contact someone so badly that it couldn’t wait we would pull over and use a pay phone.

  6. cln says:

    I just wear my hands free headset so I don’t have to worry about being cited. Problem solved.

  7. Amy says:

    Increasing the fine and even adding points on people’s driving record WILL NOT stop nor lower the amount of people texting and driving. Everyone on here who keeps venting are very narrow-minded. This is exactly like speeding…we all know its dangerous and the fines are a lot higher then a cell phone ticket but most people still speed and they are not going to stop. Simple concept to understand.

  8. leon says:

    my first offense ticket for textin isnt 20buck it wuz 160. so who ever says its 20 buck thats bull.

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