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Enforcement lax on teen-driver mobile-phone ban

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Indiana police have issued very few tickets to drivers age 17 and younger for using cell phones while driving since a ban on the practice took effect last summer.

Indiana State Police report ticketing only one driver for violating the cell phone ban, and a state agency that tracks infractions for 160 police departments could find just two other citations under the law that took effect in July 2009.

"There's really not a police agency that can dedicate someone just to looking for young-looking drivers," state police 1st Sgt. Dave Bursten told The Courier-Journal of Louisville. "Maybe in a small police agency where everybody knows everybody, they'll see Mary Jo Thompson driving with a phone and know that she just got her license two months ago. But for other agencies, there are a lot of complexities, so it's just not a top-tier item."

Indiana legislators passed the teen cell phone ban last year as part of a larger graduated driver's license bill that also required teens to be older before receiving a license and added other restrictions to probationary licenses.

In order for police to issue a ticket — punishable by a fine up to $500 — officers have to see a driver who looks under age 18 using a mobile device. After a stop, the officer must then establish when the driver received his or her license — before or after the law took effect.

"It's not as easy to spot as say speeding or disregarding an automatic signal," Jeffersonville Police Detective Todd Hollis said. "Those can be spotted fairly easily and measured fairly easily."

The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, which uses federal grants to promote driving safety, aired a series of radio ads this spring to inform the public about the cell phone restriction.

"Heads up. Phones down," one ad said. "Put the brakes on distracted driving."

State Rep. Vanessa Summers, D-Indianapolis, has sponsored bills to ban all drivers from using handheld devices.

"It needs to be an all-ages issue, not just about teens," Summers said. "Using a phone — not just texting — but using a phone without a handsfree piece is dangerous."

Tyler Ray, who will be a 16-year-old junior at Jeffersonville High School this fall, said many of his friends text while driving — even hiding their actions beneath the steering wheel.

"I know people get killed every day because of it," he said. "You can hurt other people on the road. You could run into a little kid. But I guess other teens think it's not going to happen to them."

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  • Phoney Concerned/Teen Profiling
    Stupid law! "Teen Profiling"!! If windows are tinted how will police 'SEE' if driver is youthful...DUH! Old people in the General Assembly need to find something better to do!
    How about a better law for driving cars without insurance!!! A one moth policy is all that is need to get a license plate for a car, then drop the coverage! Make laws for everyone, not just teens and a few accidents. The phony "We Care about Teens" is so shallow, for if we really cared about teens we would not let ANY JUNK FOODS OR DRINKS in schools!!!!

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  1. Those of you yelling to deport them all should at least understand that the law allows minors (if not from a bordering country) to argue for asylum. If you don't like the law, you can petition Congress to change it. But you can't blindly scream that they all need to be deported now, unless you want your government to just decide which laws to follow and which to ignore.

  2. 52,000 children in a country with a population of nearly 300 million is decimal dust or a nano-amount of people that can be easily absorbed. In addition, the flow of children from central American countries is decreasing. BL - the country can easily absorb these children while at the same time trying to discourage more children from coming. There is tension between economic concerns and the values of Judeo-Christian believers. But, I cannot see how the economic argument can stand up against the values of the believers, which most people in this country espouse (but perhaps don't practice). The Governor, who is an alleged religious man and a family man, seems to favor the economic argument; I do not see how his position is tenable under the circumstances. Yes, this is a complicated situation made worse by politics but....these are helpless children without parents and many want to simply "ship" them back to who knows where. Where are our Hoosier hearts? I thought the term Hoosier was synonymous with hospitable.

  3. Illegal aliens. Not undocumented workers (too young anyway). I note that this article never uses the word illegal and calls them immigrants. Being married to a naturalized citizen, these people are criminals and need to be deported as soon as humanly possible. The border needs to be closed NOW.

  4. Send them back NOW.

  5. deport now

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