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home : most recent : statewide implications July 17, 2018

7/8/2018 5:17:00 PM
EDITORIAL: Indiana texting while driving law too tough to enforce

Kokomo Tribune

Indiana legislators passed a law in 2010, aimed at cutting back on the number of motorists texting while driving. It hasn’t worked.

Two years after that law went into effect, we reported Kokomo police officers had written just five citations.

The problem, police say, is the law is nearly impossible to enforce. Other police departments have come to the same conclusion.

According to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, law enforcement issued 2,020 tickets for texting while driving between 2011 and 2015, The News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne reported.

“That’s about 500 tickets a year for the whole state,” the newspaper said.

Well, legislators passed another bill with an enforcement problem in 2015. Call it the “keep right” law.

With the threat of a ticket and $500 fine, a slow-moving vehicle in the left or passing lane must move to the right and out of the way of faster traffic.

That means a person driving the posted speed limiton a highway could be ticketed for not making way for a motorist driving 5, 10 or 20 mph faster than the slowpoke.

Three years after the law took effect, Twitter found reason to rejoice. On June 16, Indiana State Police Sgt. Stephen Wheeles tweeted a photo of a van he had stopped for driving too slowly on Interstate 65 in southern Indiana.

IndyCar star Graham Rahal tweeted, “This guy is my hero. Fast lane cruisers are one of my biggest frustrations!” Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Troy Aikman tweeted, “Finally” (with the requisite thumbsup emoji).

We recognize that motorists who impede the free flow of traffic can be a safety hazard. But are they honestly more dangerous than those driving 15 mph above the speed limit, a speed so excessive it’s categorized as driving recklessly?

Then-Rep. Jud McMillin, R-Brookville, said his law gives slower drivers incentive to stop living life in the fast lane. But even one of the law’s supporters, Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, said it probably wouldn’t be enforced by state police, who are more likely to watch for speeders or intoxicated drivers.

Turns out, Tomes wasn’t too far off the mark.

State troopers wrote just 103 tickets between July 1, 2015 — the date the law took effect — and July 1, 2016, WISH-TV reported.

Laws that won’t be enforced with consistency — or can’t be, as in the case of the texting law — aren’t really laws at all.

#YYYY# Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.

Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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