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APD stepping up enforcement of cell phone ban

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AMARILLO - Right now Amarillo police officers are writing more citations for use of a cell phone while driving than they have in the 9 months the ordinance has been in place.

Since February 3, APD has issued 113 tickets for cell phone use in a an un-parked car. But what does that say about the effectiveness of the law? "We really can't answer that because as I've said to people, we don't know,"Sergeant Brent Barbee said. "We've never had to go through this process with a law like this before and we really didn't know what to expect."

Barbee says city officials told the department there was a "perceived lack of enforcement" on the cell phone ban from the public. That's why the department has issued 22 citations just within the last week.

When the ban first went into effect officers were advised not to pull someone over unless they were causing a hazard with their phone on the roadway. But now officers are more likely to issue a ticket no matter what you're doing with your phone in your car.

Police say the law isn't about writing tickets though, it's about safety. "The emphasis is on education," Barbee said. "It's just like when the seatbelt laws were first passed, and very few people would wear a seat belt, but now we're at 85-90% compliance. So I really think it's the same deal. It's going to require some time for people to get used to the idea."

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