while driving ban now in effect
Texting while driving is always a dangerous choice. Since July 1, it will also be an illegal and costly decision.
Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter signed legislation making texting while driving an infraction and making Idaho the 37th state to enact a texting-while-driving ban.
Banning the use of smartphones and other hand-held devices to manually review, prepare or send written communications while operating a motor vehicle, the new law will receive primary enforcement — police can stop and cite offenders for that violation alone — but offenses are not moving violations. Also, there are no points assessed against the driver’s license.
Violators can expect to pay $85 if caught by a law enforcement officer.
The state already had misdemeanor penalties for inattentive driving, but until now, no specific law banning texting while driving.
“Most people know that texting and driving is a lethal combination,” said Lisa Losness with the Idaho Transportation Department’s Highway Safety Office. “But, there are still drivers who need this law to remind them to never make this dangerous decision.”
“This legislation will save lives,” Losness said. “But texting and driving is just one of many distractions motorists face every time they get behind the wheel.”
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and Losness encourages Idaho motorists to eliminate all distractions that take attention away from the important task of safe driving.
Inattention or distraction is a leading cause of motor vehicle crashes in Idaho, responsible for about one out of every five of the state’s motor-vehicle crashes.
The Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) offers 10 tips for managing some of the most common driver distractions.
1. Turn it off. Turn your phone off or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car.
2. Spread the word. Set up a special message to tell callers that you are driving and you’ll get back to them as soon as possible, or sign up for a service that offers this.
3. Pull over. If you need to make a call, pull over to a safe area first.
4. Use your passengers. Ask a passenger to make the call for you.
5. “X” the text. Don’t ever text and drive, surf the web or read your email while driving. It is dangerous and against the law in most states.
6. Know the law. Familiarize yourself with state and local laws before you get in the car. Some states and localities prohibit the use of hand held cell phones.
7. Prepare. Review maps and directions before you start to drive. If you need help when you are on the road, ask a passenger to help or pull over to a safe location to review the map/directions again.
8. Secure your pets. Pets can be a big distraction in the car. Always secure your pets properly before you start to drive.
9. Keep the kids safe. Pull over to a safe location to address situations with your children in the car.
10. Focus on the task at hand. Refrain from smoking, eating, drinking, reading and any other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road.