Governors Highway Safety Association spokesman Jonathan Adkins said Washington, D.C., plus 34 states have laws against texting while driving and in 31 of those states it's a primary offense, giving police officers license to pull over motorists specifically for that infraction, USA Today reported Friday.
"With any highway safety law, primary is the most effective," Adkins said.
Although a national database on texting citations doesn't exist, counties and states do keep track, Adkins said.
Chris Murphy, director of the California Office of Traffic Safety, said in 2010 the state, which has a texting-while-driving ban, had 7,924 texting convictions, almost triple the 2,845 citations issued in 2009, the year the ban came into existence.
In New York, the Department of Motor Vehicles said from July, when the state made the practice a primary offense, through mid-September there were 4,634 tickets written, topping the 3,248 mark for the texting-while-driving citations issued in all of 2010, USA Today said.
New York DMV spokeswoman Jackie McGinnis said she's focusing on the time when everyone will follow the law.
"With increased education and enforcement, we look forward to the day when compliance with the hand-held device laws will be at the same level as seat belt use," McGinnis said.