TUCSON- Texting and driving is against the law in the City, but is it being properly enforced? The law was put on the books in 2012. The News 4 Tucson Investigators hit the road to try to catch people breaking the law. It wasn't even 20 minutes into the drive where we caught people texting and driving.
"On average, I see probably like 8 or 10 texting," said Enrique Balberas.
"Oh, too many, too many people," said Francisco Vasquez Sr.
These were just some of the responses from drivers when we asked them how often they see people texting and driving.
"Very often, very often and it's always young males and females, always," said Francisco Vasquez Jr.
Contrary to what Vasquez sees, on Wednesday September 30th around 10:30 a.m. the N4T Investigators were driving north on N. Oracle Road. We caught a man who was so preoccupied, behind the wheel, not only do we catch him texting while driving, but at least one car beeps at him when the light turns green. It appeared his eyes were on his phone and we were right along side of him. Apparently, he didn't notice us either.
"The other day we just saw somebody texting and she just cut right in front of us, and it was annoying it's annoying," said Olivia Michel.
Annoying for some drivers, but for others it's one too many eyes down and not enough on the road.
City of Tucson Code 20-160 says it's against the law to use "a hand-held wireless communications device to compose manually, send or read a
written message for the purpose of non voice interpersonal communication--- including texting, emailing and instant messaging while the motor vehicle
is in motion." It's a $100 fine but fines go up to $250 if there's a crash.
We found another guy on Thursday October 1st around 10:45 a.m. blatantly texting and driving through an intersection going west on E. Grand Rd.
The N4T Investigators found out exactly how many texting and driving citations were issued since it first went into effect in April 2012. Tucson Police released the following numbers:
04/01/2012 - 03/31/2013
Total Citations: 16
Total Written Warnings: 7
04/01/2013 - 03/31/2014
Total Citation: 19
Total Written Warnings: 20
04/01/2014 - 03/31/2015
Total Citations: 28
Total Written Warnings: 21
04/01/2015 - 09/30/2015
Total Citations: 15
Total Written Warnings: 9
Despite the number of citations rising, some feel it's still not enough.
Bret Buganski asked Vasquez Jr, "do you feel the law is being enforced?"
He replied, "not really, whenever they can but there's still too many, too many people driving and texting."
The N4T Investigators reached out several times to Tucson Police for an on camera interview for what some feel is a lack of enforcement, but those requests went unanswered.
Tucson City councilman Steve Kozachik helped push the ban on texting and driving in the city, and says Tucson Police are doing what they can to enforce the law.
Buganski asked Kozachik, "some people would argue that these numbers are low for the number of citations for texting and driving do you feel that's a fair assessment?"
"No, not really, the reality is that it's tough to catch a burglar too but that doesn't mean you ignore it," said Kozachik.
Kozachik admits TPD faces challenges enforcing the law, but he's pleased with the number of citations officers have issued.
"It's tough to demonstrate if somebody driving down the road that they're either texting or just looking at their phone," said Kozachik.
Some drivers we spoke to say people would get the message about texting and driving if the fines were higher than $100. Kozachik says that's an idea he would consider and would possibly bring for discussion to city council.
If you have a story for the N4T Investigators email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the tipline 520-955-4444.