Enforcing Texting Ban Remains Problematic Year Later

July Marks 1 Year Since Law Took Effect

A year after Indiana's ban on texting while driving took effect, enforcing the law is still a challenge for police.

Records show that Indiana State Police have issued 125 tickets -- or about one ticket every three days -- since the law became official last July, RTV6's Chance Walser reported.

In Indianapolis, police wrote just five texting while driving citations during the same period.

"The problem, again, is the enforceability of it," said Matt Nagle, a senior analyst for Indiana University's Public Policy Institute. "Without the ability of an officer to confiscate the phone and determine whether or not texting took place, there is not a lot they can do."

The law includes texting and e-mailing but it doesn't mention operating GPS devices or surfing the Web, which can also be distracting.

"(Police) are shooting at a moving target. Text messaging is just one example. There is now GPS and Web browsing," Nagle said. "Smart phones are increasing the sphere of connectivity."

Shortly after the law took effect, a Richmond man admitted he was texting when he drove his car into an area pharmacy.

Similar examples are enough to keep some drivers from picking up their phones. But, for others, it's a harder habit to break.

"I haven't stopped," one driver said.

"It's mostly starting and taking off from a light. Once I pull up to a light and text, I might finish the text before I move on and keep driving," said driver Andrew Norris.

Police point out that while enforceability remains a challenge, officers can still use suspicion of texting as a stopping charge, which might reveal other violations.

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