Police in Northampton and, according to an article on PennLive.com, across the state are having trouble enforcing the new statewide law prohibiting text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle.
Chief of Police Barry Pilla said the new law is difficult to enforce due to the fact police need to have proof that the motorist was texting while driving and not fiddling with their radio or grabbing a stick of gum from their pocket.
The main issue is proving a driver is texting.
“When the driver is looking down you can imagine they are on their phone but the problem is proving it,” the chief stated.
Pilla said he wasn’t sure if his officers have cited any drivers for violating the new law, which took effect on March 8, but he was sure his officers had stopped distracted motorist and issued warnings. The warnings do not affect one’s state driving records and do not carry a monetary fine.
The chief says he is more interested in educating people than writing tickets and called texting and driving a “quality of life issue.”
Before the law took effect, Northampton police worked with several local departments, State Farm Insurance, Council Rock School District and Council Rock Coalition for Healthy Youth to inform high-school aged drivers about the dangers of texting and driving, Pilla said.
Students across the district were given informational talks about texting and driving, signed pledges and watched a short film about the subject produced by Tom Lynskey, a film student at Temple University and Council Rock South High School alumni.
Pilla said talking on a cell phone, in his opinion, is just as dangerous as texting while driving. He urged motorist of all ages who needed to take a phone call to pull over, because driving takes full concentration.
“Don’t [use your phone] when you’re driving a 2,500 pound piece of iron around,” the chief urged.