South Bend Common Council looking to prohibit cellphone use while driving citywide

NOW: South Bend Common Council looking to prohibit cellphone use while driving citywide

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Drivers in South Bend will possibly find out soon how serious the city is about stopping distracted driving. 

On Monday, the South Bend Common Council introduces a bill that repeals the current city law, which prohibits drivers from using handheld devices in school zones. The new ordinance would prohibit drivers from using any device on all roadways. 

Click here to read the entire bill. 

District 4 Councilperson Jo Broden said distracted driving is an issue that is raised consistently. 

“Both from a walking perspective and from a biking perspective,” she said. “Just distracted driving and the heightened awareness and alertness that folks who are not in vehicles have to navigate our streets with.” 

According to the bill, data shows that distracted driving has increased accidents. However the St. Joseph County Fatal Alcohol and Crash Team said they have not responded to an accident with serious injuries or fatal accident where the cause was the driver being on the phone. 

But for Jonathan Wheeler, the now-common practice has become a headache for him. 

“It’s kind of frustrating when you’re sitting at a stoplight and it turns green and nobody goes because you see them with their heads down looking at a cellphone,” he said. 

The South Bend City Clerk’s office reports zero citations being written for texting while driving or other types of distractions since this January. 

ABC 57 News spoke with a woman who said she has concerns on how well the City will be able to enforce the laws, claiming people can easily hide their phones. Broden said the council will discuss these concerns and see how effective the current ordinance has been.

“Did it elevate safety levels,” she said. “Did we see a decrease in incidents in our emergency rooms.”

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