Police cracking down on texting while driving citations - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Police cracking down on texting while driving citations

MISHAWAKA - Texting and driving. By now, you know it's dangerous. Lawmakers across the country have passed laws to get you to put your phone down. In fact, every state except Montana has a law banning texting while driving.  Although every state is set to start issuing tickets to drivers, the number of people getting caught is pretty small.

Indiana's no-texting-while-driving law went into effect back in 2011. Three years later, law enforcement says it's still hard to enforce.  Mishawaka Police Lieutenant Tim Williams says since 2011, Mishawaka P.D. has only issued seven citations, and he's issued three of them. "That number is small, but it doesn't represent the number of drivers we see everyday texting and driving. We see people on their phones all the time, but it's hard to prove they're breaking the law," says Williams.

South Bend Police say they're going through the same problem because they've only issued a handful of citations. Many in law enforcement say it would be easier to issue tickets if Indiana had a hands-free law, like they do in Illinois, where you can't even be caught holding your phone.

"Here in Indiana, they can talk on their phones, they can use their apps, they can still dial in phone numbers. So for us to be able to prove that they are texting while driving is a difficult thing," says Williams. He says right now, Indiana is ranked number one for the number of fatal crashes with young adults. Williams says one of the main contributions to that number besides alcohol, is cell phones.
In the meantime, Williams says since the texting law is too vague, Mishawaka officers are cracking down in other ways. They're on the lookout for certain signs that drivers are distracted. "Swerving across the center line, going over the curb or the actual road edge, slowing, speeding up, showing inconsistencies. These signs are the same driving patterns as drivers under the influence," says Williams. "In most cases, these people who are texting while driving are more dangerous than a drunk driver," he adds.

In Indiana, if you're caught texting while driving, the fine can be up to $500. If someone is seriously injured in an accident, or even killed,  it's a class D felony.

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