Five Questions: Driving Danger
Enforcement of a Kansas law banning text messaging while driving will begin Saturday. Pete Bodyk, Kansas Department of Transportation traffic safety manager, discusses the state’s ban on text-messaging while driving.
Q: When does enforcement of the new state ban on texting while driving begin?
A: State and local law enforcement officers have been issuing warnings for this violation since July. However, the law provides that tickets can be issued beginning Saturday. Drivers receiving citations will be subject to a minimum fine of $60, plus court costs.
Q: Who is subject to the law?
A: Kansas law bans texting for all drivers. For all drivers with a learner’s permit or intermediate license, the law also bans all cell phone use — both handheld and hands-free.
Q: Under what circumstances can I be ticketed for text messaging while driving?
A: Law enforcement may issue a ticket simply by observing a violation; they need not have stopped a driver for another reason. The Kansas law applies even if a vehicle is stopped at a red light or stop sign.
Q: Is Kansas alone in its text-messaging ban for drivers?
A: Kansas is one of 30 states to ban text messaging for all drivers. Eight states prohibit all handheld cell phone use while driving, and the federal government has banned texting while driving by federal employees on duty and all commercial truck and bus drivers.
Q: So what’s the big deal about text messaging while driving?
A: Drivers take their eyes off the road five seconds per message on average. That is long enough for a vehicle traveling 55 mph to go 134 yards — farther than a football field and its end zones. We urge all drivers to “put it down” when behind the wheel to avoid a ticket and to save lives.