RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Nearly 600 drivers have been cited under a 10-month-old Rio Rancho ordinance that prohibits the use of electronic devices like cellphones while driving, and some drivers said they already notice a difference in their fellow drivers’ behavior.
The number of vehicle crashes has decreased within city limits during the first four months of this year, though police officials said there’s no way of knowing whether enforcing the ban has had an impact on crashes. The number of crashes each month stayed around the same between July 2014, when the ordinance went into effect, and the end of 2014, according to data provided by the Rio Rancho Police Department.
Municipal court records show that Rio Rancho police officers had issued 579 citations as of May 12 under the “prohibited use of electronic device while driving” ordinance since it was implemented. About 70 percent of those were issued in 2014, the records show, and only a handful of drivers were cited more than once. That number doesn’t include drivers who got away with only warnings, however.
The traffic unit has seen a noticeable decrease in collisions, both with and without injuries, in the first quarter of this year, Rio Rancho Police Capt. Paul Rogers said in an interview earlier this month. Rogers said the number of overall crashes this year has fallen steadily each month from 145 in January to 107 in April, but it’s difficult for traffic unit officers and department officials to say what’s behind the decrease.