More than 1,300 Pennsylvania motorists received tickets for texting while driving during the first year of the state’s ban on the practice.
More than 40 percent of those tickets -- 545 of them -- were issued in Philadelphia or the surrounding suburban counties, according to data compiled by AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Pennsylvania’s texting-while-driving ban went into effect on March 8, 2012. In the year since then, 243 tickets have been issued in Philadelphia, 111 in Montgomery County, 75 in Delaware County, 67 in Bucks County and 49 in Chester County.
The high percent of citations issued in Philadelphia and its suburbs is likely due to the region’s large population and amount of traffic, AAA spokeswoman Jenny Robinson said.
"It’s hard to say if it’s related to something other than traffic volume," she said.
Likewise, the months with the most tickets issued were March through July -- times when more drivers are on the roads.
Statewide, 105 drivers were cited in July, the highest total for the year. March had the second-most tickets, with 104. The monthly totals dropped during the fall and winter.
"The big travel months are going to be in the spring and summer," Robinson said.
She added that enforcement is generally more vigorous in the first few months of a new law.
Across the state, 57 people died in traffic crashes attributed to distracted driving last year, according to preliminary PennDOT data. In 2011, there were 59 such fatalities.
Pennsylvania’s law makes it a primary offense for motorists to send a text message while driving. That means a police officer can stop a driver solely for texting. Those convicted face a $50 fine.
Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.
Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.