It’s a bad habit and against the law — cell phone use while driving —†and local law enforcement officials are cracking down in the form of citations.
Since the law went into effect last July, Oakdale City Police officers gave out 808 citations to adults and juveniles, with an average of 67 per month or two per day.
“The numbers have gone down in the last few weeks but I don’t think that’s a trend or anything,” Traffic Officer Ben Savage said of the decline, saying there are some out there, particularly tourists, who aren’t even aware it’s against the law to use the cell phone while driving. “Some of the out-of-towners didn’t realize it was a law. A lot of states have adopted the cell phone law but not every state has.”
A 2003 study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was recently re-released with findings that were withheld at the time of release, stating that there are “observable degradations in driver behavior and performance and changes in risk-taking and decision-making behaviors when using both hand-held and hands-free mobile phones…”
Lt. Vernon Gladney agreed with the findings, saying, “Even talking in the ear piece divides your attention.”
The study goes on to say that the findings support the conclusion derived from other studies, which have related the distraction of phone use while driving —†including texting — to the same as alcohol impairment.
“People shouldn’t even be drinking coffee while they’re driving,” Savage said. “People put more importance on their phone conversation than the 2,000 pound vehicle they’re driving.”
And with the number of cell phone users on the rise, it would seem so will the risk of people using their phones at inappropriate times.
“I’ve seen people texting with both hands while steering with their knees,” Gladney said. “That’s not very smart or safe.”
The law is aimed at protecting motorists behind the wheel and those in traffic and it’s pretty simple.
Savage broke it down, saying, “Don’t talk or text while driving.”