Report: Pa. Distracted Driving Citations Climbed 52 Percent in Two Years

A state trooper said police have been cracking down on texting and driving (among other offenses) in recent years.

Distracted driving citations rose by 52 percent in Pennsylvania between 2014 and 2016, according to a new analysis of court records.

The report was compiled by PA Courts InfoShare, part of the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. It’s illegal to send, read or write text-based messages or emails while driving in Pennsylvania – and using headphones are earbuds are also forbidden while driving. 

Overall, 3,336 distracted driving citations were issued statewide in 2016 (compared to 2,195 in 2014 and 3,099 in 2015). The report found that men are cited far more often than women – 70 percent of citations were issued for men between 2014 and 2016, while 28 percent were issued for women.

Cpl. Adam Reed, an information officer for the Pennsylvania State Police, said he wasn’t sure why men received significantly more citations than women – but he said police have been cracking down on distracted driving across the board in recent years.

In 2014 alone, 13,964 car crashes were caused by distracted driving – and 49 of them were fatal, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Police officers are trained to look for drivers who have “one hand on the wheel and one holding up their phone next to the wheel,” Reed said. He attributed the uptick in citations to “a combination of us enforcing more, it getting easier to detect these citations and probably more people driving distracted.”

About 58 percent of distracted driving citations in 2016 were issued by local police. Philadelphia ranked third among the state’s counties with the most distracted driving citations, behind Montgomery and Allegheny counties and ahead of York and Chester counties.

In 2016, 216 distracted driving citations were issued in Philadelphia county – which reflects a decrease from 2015, when 242 citations were filed.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.