SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) — New information shows the number of people ticketed by police for texting while driving in Massachusetts has increased dramatically since the act became illegal.
More than 18,000 tickets have been issued since the law went into effect six years ago and more than 6,000 were handed out last year alone.
The Boston Globe found that 6,131 tickets were issued in 2015 – a number that Michael Dipietro of Seekonk said he thought would be higher.
Dipietro said he has worked at his family’s gas station for decades and has seen the dangers of distracted driving first-hand.
“It can be dangerous. I’ve seen them, you know, float across the yellow line and even veer off to the right side of the road as well,” he told Eyewitness News on Monday.
Seekonk Police Chief Craig Mace said texting and driving is more dangerous than many people realize.
“Operating a car while trying to text is almost the equivalent of being at a .08 blood alcohol level,” he said.
The Globe found people 40-year-old and younger received more than three-quarters of the tickets, most of which were issued between 4 and 6 p.m.
“People get killed as a result of these distractions,” Mace said.
The most recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows more than 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving-related crashes in 2014.
“The bottom line is people shouldn’t be doing it,” Mace said.
The violation for texting and driving comes with a hefty fine in Massachusetts. First-time adult offenders must pay a ticket of up to $100, but the amount jumps to $500 by the third offense.