15% jump in tickets for texting and talking at wheel

The number of tickets issued by police to drivers using cell phones and smart phones is on the rise.

Royal Newfoundland Constabulary issued 800 citations during recent 12-month period

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary has recorded an increase in the number of tickets for drivers using a cell phone. (AP Photo/Ric Francis/File)

The number of tickets issued to people who are driving while texting or talking on a cell phone is on the rise.

In the 12-month period ending in July, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary issued 800 tickets for those offences in the jurisdictions it polices.

Tickets for talking

During the 12 months ending in July 2012, the RNC issued a total of 800 tickets for using a cell phone while driving.

  • The northeast Avalon: 663.
  • Corner Brook: 121.
  • Labrador West: 16.

During the 12 months ending in July 2011, the RNC issued a total of 697 tickets for using a cell phone while driving.

  • The northeast Avalon: 541.
  • Corner Brook: 148.
  • Labrador West: 8.

That's up 15 per cent when compared to the same period a year earlier. 

RNC Sgt. Paul Murphy says he'd catch a lot more people if he weren't driving a marked police car.

He gets a better indication of the problem when he is in his personal vehicle.

"Driving when I'm off, you can get a good example of it when you go to an intersection," Murphy said.

"Almost every third and fourth vehicle, there's someone on the phone. And a lot of them are texting, and some are talking and some are on the Internet. It's very dangerous."

Besides getting a ticket of up to $400, texting or talking on a cell while behind the wheel can also mean four driving demerit points.

Drivers who amass 12 points in a two-year period have their licence suspended for two months. The penalties increase for repeat offenders.

The RNC serves the northeast Avalon, Corner Brook and Labrador West regions of the province.