BOSTON, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Massachusetts cited 245 people for texting while driving in the first 90 days of a distracted-driving law -- a figure some politicians said was appallingly low.
"I think it's abysmal, but it's exactly what we predicted," state Sen. Mark Montigny, a New Bedford Democrat, told The Boston Globe.
State motor vehicles Registrar Rachel Kaprielian, whose agency released the figures, said the number of citations tells only part of the story.
"I think the important measure is, has it changed behavior?" she told the Globe. "And some of it you measure by citations, and some of it is in crash reports to see if it was a contributing factor, and some of it is just the general awareness of the public that the law's on the books."
The law, which went into effect Sept. 30 after intense legislative debate, was intended to respond to a growing consensus that texting while driving poses an unacceptable safety risk.
Drivers texting are 23 times more likely to crash than non-texting drivers, a study by the Transportation Institute of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University found.
In enacting the ban, Massachusetts -- whose texting violation carries a $100 fine -- joined 35 other states in cracking down on texting behind the wheel, a United Press International review indicated.
The low Massachusetts "numbers show one simple thing," Montigny told the Globe. "It's very difficult for police to enforce this law as written."
Mary Maguire, director of public and legislative affairs for AAA Southern New England, which lobbied for the ban, told the newspaper, "Even though 245 citations sounds lower than some might have hoped, it's really hard to quantify the incredible public awareness that's been generated."