New South Bend, Indiana, Cell Phone Ban Yields Few Tickets

January 11, 2010

Efforts to ban the use of cell phones while driving in South Bend, Ind., school zones aren’t yielding many violations.

Records from the city clerk’s office show 13 of the tickets, which carry $75 fines, were written between August and December. The tickets were written by just eight of the city’s more than 200 police officers, the South Bend Tribune reported.

Lt. Steve Goen, the police department’s top officer on the county’s DUI task force, wrote four of the tickets.

Goen said he might be more inclined to enforce the ordinance than other officers because of training he has received for his role on the task force.

But he acknowledged the ordinance is hard to enforce because officers have to sit in school zones and ensure that the yellow light is flashing, then monitor cars to see who is talking on a cell phone.

All of the tickets were issued after school. Common Council President Derek Dieter, a police officer, said darkness before school makes it hard for officers to see into car windows.

Council member Ann Puzzello, a retired teacher who supported the ban, said she doesn’t fault officers for the low number of tickets.

“Police have to see someone actually talking on a cell phone and they have to look into people’s cars, and I don’t know how much of that they do,” Puzzello said.

She said she hopes the city can find a better way to enforce the law, suggesting that crossing guards could write down violators’ license plate numbers.

The ordinance passed 8-1 in July.

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