By The Utah Highway Patrol
Utah law was recently amended to help keep the state’s roads safe by cracking down on distracted driving.
Distracted driving is defined as any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety.
These types of distractions include:
Ґ Using a cell phone or smartphone
Ґ Eating and drinking
Ґ Talking to passengers
Ґ Reading, including maps
Ґ Using a navigation system
Ґ Watching a video
Ґ Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player.
Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.
The new state law took effect May 13, 2014. Here’s what the amendment states:
Handheld wireless communication device including:
Ґ Wireless telephone
Ґ Text messaging device
Ґ Any other similar device that is readily removable from the vehicle and is used to write, send, read text, or data through manual input such as netbook, tablet, etc.
Prohibited activities while operating a moving vehicle on a highway:
Ґ Writing, reading or sending a written message (email, texting, instant messaging)
Ґ Dialing a phone number
Ґ Accessing the internet
Ґ Viewing or recording a video
Ґ Entering data into an electronic device
Operating means driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle. Highway means the entire width of a street or road that is open to the public for vehicle traffic. Prohibitions apply when a vehicle is moving. Also, prohibitions apply when an activity is done manually, such as using fingers.
Ґ Using handheld communication device for voice communication
Ґ To view a GPS device or navigation app
Ґ During a medical emergency
Ґ Reporting a safety hazard or requesting assistance relating to safety hazard
Ґ Reporting criminal activity or requesting assistance relating to criminal activity
Ґ Use by law enforcement or emergency service personnel within the scope of their employment
Ґ Using a hands-free or voice-operated technology or a system integrated into the vehicle.
Ґ Class C Misdemeanor and $100 fine
Ґ Class B Misdemeanor if violation of the section causes serious bodily injury to another or a previous violation, or conviction of the violation, within the past three years.
If you don’t already think distracted driving is a safety problem, please take a moment to learn more. Visit Distraction.gov for more information.