Washington, D.C. motorists are headed for record numbers of citations for talking and texting while driving.
That’s the conclusion of District of Columbia police who reportedly issued 11,088 cell-phone-related citations through September of this year. If the pace continues, officers could dish out almost 15,000 tickets by year’s end. Use of phones is prohibited while driving unless the device is equipped for hands-free use.
D.C.’s hands-free law went into effect in 2004 and the most tickets handed out since 2008, when 11,904 citations were issued. Infractions in the District cost $100 each.
According to the Associated Press, the District joins 30 states that prohibit drivers from texting while behind the wheel. Other states, including Maryland—which enacted its own hands-free mandate this month—have passed laws barring the use of hand-held phones while at the wheel.
Reuters reported last month that after being distracted by talking or texting on cell phones, an estimated 16,000 people were killed between 2001 and 2007.
“Our results suggested that recent and rapid increases in texting volumes have resulted in thousands of additional road fatalities in the United States,” Fernando Wilson and Jim Stimpson of the University of North Texas Health Science Center wrote in the American Journal of Public Health.
Although drivers have displayed indifference to the District’s law, much of the city’s crackdown has been the result of beefed-up traffic checkpoints along roadways. The police department also participated in a federal summit where Transportation Secretary Ray La Hood pushed states to adopt tougher mandates on cell phones use while driving.
Meanwhile, talk show queen Oprah Winfrey has been waging her own campaign against talking and texting when driving, urging people to sign up for her “No Phone Zone” pledge which recently kicked off in Washington, D.C. at the Newseum on Pennsylvania Ave.