Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

Indiana on the look out for teens on their cell phones, but how do they know who to pull over?

Posted by lapearce on July 9, 2009

Officer Matthews wants to enforce teen cell phone ban, but doesnt know who to pull over

Officer Matthews wants to enforce teen cell phone ban, but doesn't know who to pull over

Last Wednesday new driving laws went into effect in Indiana that, among other things, ban new drivers from using cell phones. Officer Randy Matthews says he’s been on the look out for chatting teens for the past week in order to enforce the law. So far, he’s pulled over none. The problem is… Matthews has no way to knowing if the driver is under the age of 18 as they drive past him.

“Unless we have prior knowledge, if we already know the driver is under 18 years of age and we see them driving with their cell phone, sure we can pull them over and cite them, but generally, it’s going to be a secondary offense if we see someone driving without a seatbelt,” Matthews said.

How effective will these laws be if Indiana lacks the man power to enforce the new graduated drivers education laws, and have trouble enforcing them even if they are looking? Sergent Dave Bursten of the Indiana State Police told the sad but true fact about these laws:

“We’re expecting voluntary compliance. We’re expecting parents to reinforce it with their young driver.”

In other words: we really can’t do anything to enforce the laws so we just hope teens and parents take it upon themselves to do so. In my opinion, unless we mark the cars of teen drivers with some indicator that they are a new driver, all defensive driving laws out there will be governed by voluntary compliance and secondary offense tickets. That is the only way to allow police officers to accurately spot and cite teens breaking the law. Until then the laws are just suggestions.

What I really worry about is that parents will feel that their children won’t be doing acts that are illegal under graduated driving laws because they feel that the laws are being enforced. I worry that a huge gap in communications and education can form between parents and teens because of assumed enforcement. In short: don’t rely on anyone else to monitor your teen on the road. Teach them what to do and have repercussions in place if they break the rules. The police may not be able to enforce the law, but you are able to enforce your own driving laws.


2 Responses to “Indiana on the look out for teens on their cell phones, but how do they know who to pull over?”

  1. safedriver said

    Why limit the cell phone law to teens? Drivers from ages 16 to 24 have a high risk of crashes, so why add a distraction? Most drivers can handle more than one thing, so make it a law for ALL drivers to kep their phones in their pockets while driving.

    I have a pending article coming to my blog that will be published in a magazine over the next few days.


  2. […] unless the driver is breaking another law at the same time. In an article about a recent change to Indiana provisional laws the police said that they see the laws more as a deterrent and hope that people just follow the […]

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