Local, State Police Crack Down on Distracted Driving
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – It’s no April Fools' joke that distracted driving, including texting, can cause accidents.
For 11 days starting today, local and state law enforcement officers will be on the lookout for drivers who are texting and doing other things that distract them while behind the wheel. The campaign aims to remind people they need to pay attention when driving, and that not doing so not only puts them at risk but other people on the road as well.
A statewide high-visibility enforcement of texting and inattentive driving will be underway during the 11-day period. At the same time, traditional- and social-media outreach efforts will let drivers know about the enforcement and encourage them to always drive attentively.
“We certainly want to do all we can to help reduce crashes in Twin Falls County,” Capt. Tim Miller of the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office said in a prepared statement Friday. “Drivers should understand distracted driving behaviors can increase your risk of being involved in a crash.”
According to information provided by the Idaho Transportation Department, 39 people were killed in 2014 – or 22 percent of all crash fatalities that year – and an additional 3,243 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
“Driving and texting is not only dangerous and irresponsible – it’s illegal,” said Capt. Sheldon Kelley with Idaho State Police. “Drivers who break our state’s texting law will be stopped and fined. This is a major problem in our state, and we’re trying to work toward a resolution by fining violators.
“It’s not that complicated: If you text and drive inattentively, we will see you, pull you over, and fine you,” he said. “We’re serious about preventing distracted crashes.”
Violations of the texting law are an infraction; it is a primary citation and will cost you $81.50. Drivers found to be inattentive, according to Idaho Code 49-101(3), can be fined up to $300 and/or receive 90 days in jail.
The National Highway Safety Administration breaks distracted driving into three categories: visual, manual and cognitive. Josephine Middleton, ITD’s distracted-driving program manager, explained it like this:
“Texting and driving requires motorists to take their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off the task of driving,” she said in the agency’s news release, also on Friday. “This is a recipe for a crash, and that’s a scary thought.”