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Texting While Driving can be a lethal combination January 21, 2010

Posted by southbendpolice in Community Announcements, Feature Stories, In The News.
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Oprah Winfrey has more media influence on people than many other sources, including police agencies do. This week, Oprah featured a story on the dangers of texting while driving on her show, and encouraged people to give up the use of cell phones while driving as a voluntary pledge.

Nearly 500,000 people are injured and 6,000 are killed each year because drivers are talking, texting and e-mailing behind the wheel, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

This is a dangerous trend, especially at greater highway speeds. While cell phone use is not prohibited by Indiana law for the general publicas of yet, legislation has been introduced to ban use of phones while driving as other states have done. In July of 2009, a new law makes it illegal for motorists under age 18 to chat, text, or use a phone to make videos of friends in a car.

Many cities, including South Bend, do restrict this practice to all drivers in certain areas. South Bend ordinance 20-131 bans cell phone use in school zones. Fines range from $75.00 for a first time offense to $250.00 for repeat offenders.

In part, the ordinance states:

Sec. 20-131. Drivers prohibited to use hand-held mobile telephones, mobile communication devices and telecommunication devices while driving in school crossing zone.
(a) A person violates this article if the person uses a hand-held mobile telephone to engage in a call or uses a mobile communication device or other telecommunication device to send, read, or write a text message, while operating a moving motor vehicle in a school crossing zone:
(1) On an official school day;
(2) During the hours when the school crossing zone is in effect;
(3) When signs are conspicuously posted to indicate the beginning and end of the school zone; or
(4) When signs stating “NO TEXT-MESSAGING OR HAND-HELD CELL PHONE USE IN SCHOOL ZONE” or similar language are conspicuously posted at each entrance to the school zone.
(b) An operator of a motor vehicle who holds a mobile telephone or telecommunications device to or in the immediate proximity of his or her ear while the vehicle is in motion is presumed to be engaging in a call under this article. Immediate proximity is any distance that permits the user of a mobile telephone or telecommunication device to hear telecommunications transmitted over the telephone or device and does not require physical contact with the user’s ear.
(Ord. No. 9946-09, § I, 7-27-09)

In 2008 I did a story with WSBT on the dangers of driving using members of the SPBD Explorer post, with some thanks to the people at Tire Rack. The story and video can be found here. If you missed it before, take a look. The results may surprise you!

Please drive safely!

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Comments

1. Megan - January 21, 2010

Thank you so much for posting this!

The movie Seven Pounds shows just how dangerous texting while driving really is.

I saw Oprah’s campaign the other day, and I thought to myself, “Yes! This is great! But wait…. those that sign the petition, how long is their pledge really going to last?”

Is there another solution that will allow people to continue to communicate as much as they have grown accustomed to?

Yes there is!

http://www.Text-and-Email-by-Voice.com

Hugs,
Megan ♥

2. EleanorJ - January 22, 2010

This ordinance is really interesting – it’s the first I’ve heard of *all* cell phone use, including calls, being banned. Given the cognitive load required to use your mobile phone while driving, I applaud South Bend for taking proactive steps to ensure school zones are safe spaces for kids, parents, and drivers.

Another solution is to use ZoomSafer from http://www.zoomsafer.com, software for your phone that automatically locks it when you start driving so you can’t text or dial while driving. Even better for South Benders, it can work as an incoming call blocker, making it easier to comply with this local law and to stay focused on the road.

Thanks for the opportunity to post!

3. Diane Miles - January 26, 2010

I agree texting while driving should be against the law, even using a cell phone people cut in front of you not even paying attention to their driving. Why is this against the law just at a school during certain hours it should be across the whole state people pay more attention to their cell phone on a call or texting this needs to be against the law.


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