ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Cops are making a big deal about cracking down on distracted driving, including those who are talking on their phones or texting behind the wheel.
KRQE News 13 learned police in Albuquerque are rarely enforcing the law and the numbers had people scratching their heads.
“It’s a law that’s supposed to be enforced,” Kimberly Jones said.
“I don’t think it’s really a law, you know,” joked Timothy Olguin.
Holding the phone up to your ear or texting behind the wheel are both against the law in Albuquerque.
“Yeah, I’m definitely guilty of that, driving while talking on the phone and texting,” Jones added. “It’s hard not to be in to your phone.
Last week, officials said they would be cracking down.
“We will be out with our motor units and with our officers,” Dep. Chief William Roseman of APD said.
News 13 didn’t have to go far to find people breaking the law and others telling us their stories.
“This is my horse, this is my cart,” Olguin said of his bike.
“I’ve had so many near hits. It’s kind of scary. “A majority of time when they’re on the cell phone they don’t look both ways hardly ever.”
According to Metro Court records, police have only nabbed 258 drivers over the past six months for either talking or texting on the phone. When you do the math, that’s less than a ticket and a half a day.
“That’s got to increase, definitely,” Henry Brownwolf said.
“That’s really surprising, yeah,” said Jones.
“I think it was on Menaul and Carlisle. I was there for three minutes and I counted over 80 people talking on their cell phones driving by,” Olguin added.
So why such a low number of busts?
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department tells News 13 they write people up for careless driving if the texting is causing them to weave in traffic.
APD didn’t say why it writes so few tickets to people who talk on their cell phones while driving but said the texting while driving charge is tough to prove in court even with phone records.
APD also added that answering emergency calls is the priority for officers.
Here’s how you know police could be writing more than a thousand of these tickets a month in Albuquerque.
In February, State Police did an operation in the Duke City and wrote 40 tickets in just four hours. Those 40 tickets were part of the 258 written in Albuquerque over the past six months.
It’s not just cell phone tickets. As News 13 reported a year ago, APD is writing a lot fewer traffic tickets than it used to. The union said that’s because of the officer shortage and a shift in priorities.