Cruising through Quincy Center on a recent Monday, Officer Ryan Donnelly’s head repeatedly stretched left and right as he searched for drivers sending cell phone messages instead of holding on to the wheel.
“It’s certainly not rocket science,” he said. “But at the same time it can be a little challenging.”
Even before the new ban on texting while driving went into effect, law enforcement officials questioned how easily the violation would be enforced. A recent ride with Donnelly proved it might not be simple — his head swiveled more than his hand wrote tickets during a three-hour trip that Monday.
Some of the drivers he passed had their heads down and hands off of the wheel, but in their sport utility vehicles or vans it was difficult to tell what exactly they were looking at.
Eventually, a woman holding her cell phone up against her steering wheel passed by Donnelly’s marked cruiser.
He pulled her over and she denied knowing how to text. He let her off with a written warning for having a tail light out.
While Registry of Motor Vehicles statistics suggest very few citations were handed out in the first week of the new law, the numbers are preliminary and officials warned they do not necessarily reflect the level of enforcement.
In Brookline, police said they’ve handed out too many texting tickets in the last few weeks to count. Understaffed, the department said it will take two more weeks to add up their stats.