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Austin Police Take to Buses to Uphold Hands-Free Driving Ordinance

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On May 4, 2016, about 71 violations of the hands-free driving ordinance were issued by Austin police as they patrolled using buses.

In an effort to capture the element of surprise, officers boarded one bus that patrolled I-35, both northbound and southbound, in order to spot drivers using their cell phones during the rush-hour morning commute. As the Austin American-Statesman reported, the officers “issued 71 citations in an hour and forty minutes.” How did they make this work while riding the buses?

There were a line of police cruisers and motorcycles waiting for the radio signal and car identification to pull over drivers immediately after being spotted by the police in the buses. The operation went smoothly, and it turns out that it’s not the first time officers have taken to buses to enforce the ordinance.

Sgt. Michael Barger spoke to KUT about the operation, saying “the higher vantage point makes it easier to spot drivers using their phones illegally [and] since the hands-free law went into place, he’s noticed drivers holding their phones lower to avoid detection.”

This sneaky tactic adapted by the public is being fought by the use of buses and will continue weekly over the summer to try and prevent distracted driving.