Law needs enforcement

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Princeton, Texas, is like many communities all over the land in that it has enacted an ordinance that prohibits motor vehicle operators from using cell phones while passing through a school zone.

I see the sign daily in my neighborhood, warning motorists of that fact and threatening them with stiff fines if they get caught.

One problem is evident. The cops aren’t enforcing it with any sort of regularity.

I saw it again today: While walking across the street from the elementary school in our neighborhood, I spotted a parent — with a child in the back seat — chatting on a cell phone while driving away from the school.

Long ago I lost count of the parents I have witnessed breaking the law. They ignore the warnings. Surely they know of the prohibition, yes? Of course they do! It’s been all over the papers, on TV, in social media.

The Princeton Police Department cannot dispatch its officers everywhere at once. I get the PD comprises human beings who have to answer emergency calls constantly. They do their best to take care of accident victims or to cite drivers who speed along major highway that runs east-west through the city. They answer domestic disturbances, loud-animal complaints and assorted “suspicious activity” calls that come in.

I am left to wonder whether they believe enforcement of this particular municipal code is high enough on its priority list for the police department to dispatch officers at the schools scattered throughout the city at the time when parents arrive with the kids in the morning and then leave with them in the afternoon.

Hey, I know Princeton isn’t alone. I also am aware of enforcement issues that rest with communities everywhere. The Texas Legislature two years ago made cell phone use while driving anywhere in the state illegal. They put signs along border-entry rights-of-way advising motorists of that fact.

Has the threat of heavy fines stopped this kind of dangerous behavior anywhere in Texas? Hah!

Indeed, this is a national phenomenon that needs states from coast to coast to coast to double down on enforcing laws that they, too, have enacted.

As for what’s happening in my little ol’ neighborhood, I am getting closer to shouting at the next motorist I see violating a city ordinance banning cell phone use to: Shut the hell up … and drive!

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