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Some states look to make texting while driving primary offense

Some states in the United States have primary texting and driving laws where police officers can pull a driver over for the offense of texting behind the wheel without needing an additional reason. Police officers in states that have secondary texting and driving laws cannot pull a driver over for only texting while driving and have to pull the driver over for another reason. States that have secondary texting and driving laws are looking at sister states with primary laws and are considering a change.

Texting and driving is one of the main ingredients to distraction caused car accidents today, and states that have secondary texting and driving laws say they might as well not have any law regarding the action because it is so hard to enforce. To begin, the enforcement of texting bans is more difficult than the enforcement of cell phone bans because drivers tend to keep their phones below the line of the window when texting. Secondly, the offense is harder to regulate in states with secondary texting and driving bans because officers must first pull over the driver for a different reason.

There is a clear difference in the enforcement of texting while driving bans in states that have converted from secondary to primary texting bans. The state of Washington saw the number of citations for texting while driving increase by 143 percent when it changed its texting ban from a secondary to primary law. The state of New Jersey had a similar experience. New Jersey groups talking and texting violations together in its statistics. The state issued just 1,000 talking and texting violations per month when the texting law was a secondary law. Under the primary texting law nearly 10,000 citations have been issued each month.

Source:, “Push is on to make messaging while driving a primary offense,” Tom Precious, 5/9/11

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