Naperville police didn’t immediately rush out to start slapping citations on drivers spotted holding phones to their ears when that became illegal on Jan. 1. They did make note of the behavior, however. At this point, being seen violating the ban is now likely to get you a ticket.
Police Chief Bob Marshall said the state’s prohibition on using phones near schools and in construction zones, enacted in 2013, did see prompt enforcement. Violators promptly received 115 tickets and 55 warning citations for their offense, Marshall said in a June 17 memo to City Manager Doug Krieger.
The law didn’t come down hard right away when the rule was expanded, though. After the state ban extended to drivers’ use of hand-held phones in any setting at the beginning of this year, local law enforcement first launched an awareness effort comprised of press releases and “education through use of warning citations,” Marshall said, building on campaigns already under way at area television stations.
In March, the owners of cars whose drivers were seen using their phones without the hands-free feature began receiving letters from members of the city’s volunteer civilian Community Radio Watch team. Since that program began, 26 drivers have received letters, Marshall said.
Enforcement with the issuance of tickets began after about three weeks of the educational effort. By May 27, police had ticketed 383 drivers for violating the new law, and 114 had gotten off with a warning, the chief said.
The most frequent violators of the new rule weren’t the newest motorists on the road. Ninety percent of those cited were between 21 and 56 years old. Just nine percent of the violations occurred among younger drivers, according to the data provided by Marshall.
The chief’s comments suggested, however, that ticketing drivers is not the top priority for his officers.
“The enforcement effort of the Police Department has two goals: create the safest travelling environment for motorists and pedestrians and obtain voluntary behavioral modification for compliance through education,” he wrote.Tags: Naperville Police Department