Police see increase in citations since cell phone ban

Police see increase in citations since cell phone ban

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Amarillo police are seeing an increase in citations for using cell phones while driving.

The city of Amarillo began implementing the ban of cell phone use while driving in 2013, and while only a few years in, officers are seeing some dramatic numbers.

There are only four states in the country that have not banned the use of cell phones while driving (including Texas). And a new study shows states without this ban have a higher rate of people who text while driving...roughly 17 percent higher.

But cities like Amarillo take it into their own hands, and make it a city ban.

"Since the ordinance went into effect in 2013, we have seen a steady increase in citations. We went from 165 citations the very first year, to almost 400 the second year. We had over 900 last year. This year we're already at 200 citations being issued," says Cpl. Jerry Neufeld.

While the Texas Department of Transportation has no position in passing a state-wide ban, they tell us education is their primary concern with seeing these incident numbers increasing.

"If you're talking on the phone and driving, you're 4 times more likely to be in a crash. If you are texting and driving, you're 8 times more likely to be in a crash. So those are risks you don't need to take. You wouldn't drink and drive, so you shouldn't text and drive," says Tracy Tellman with TxDOT.

It is unknown whether the state of Texas will follow in the footsteps of those who have banned the practice, but Neufeld says if they decide to, law enforcement will be on board...though they know it may not be easy.

"I think just a law banning texting and driving is very difficult to enforce. You've got to be able to have someone that can visually see pretty much inside that car and see that person with the phone in their hand and them doing something with it to determine that they were actually texting while driving. I think that's very difficult to prove. That's not to say we wouldn't attempt to. We will do whatever the law tells us to do."

Neufeld reminds the public that these citations can carry a fine up to $200, so to play it safe, you should just put the phone away.

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