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Facebook: New traffic enforcement tool?

Today’s New York Times reports that police in New Delhi have set up a Facebook page that residents of the Indian city are using to post photos ratting out fellow drivers for traffic violations — like motorcyclists not wearing helmets or cars driving in bicycle lanes.

One Facebook poster wasn’t convinced New Delhi police would notice — so he circled the head of the motorcyclist who lacked a helmet. The full image includes a clear shot of his license plate.

So far the police have reportedly issued 665 tickets based on the photos — using the license plate numbers the photos capture to track down vehicle owners.

Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz spotted the story — but he saw a potential Catch 22 for folks who would try to replicate the phenomena here.

Given Evanston’s recent ban on cell phone use while driving, if you use your phone from behind the wheel to snap a picture of somebody else’s bad behavior in traffic, would your action be illegal? For that matter, would you be incriminating yourself by posting the shot to Facebook?

We took a look at the city code section on mobile telephone use — and it doesn’t mention taking pictures — only "talking or listening to another person, text messaging, sending, reading or listening to an electronic message, or browsing the internet" as banned activities.

So perhaps you could take the picture — but you’d better pull over and park before you try to post it.

No word on whether Evanston Police are planning their own Facebook page.

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