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Morning Sun
  • Texting law into effect on Saturday

  • Starting Jan. 1, 2011, drivers across Kansas will have to take their texting elsewhere.



    That is when the state’s new texting while driving ban takes effect, meaning that motorists will not be allowed to respond to any written communication on their cell phones.

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  • Starting Jan. 1, 2011, drivers across Kansas will have to take their texting elsewhere.
    That is when the state’s new texting while driving ban takes effect, meaning that motorists will not be allowed to respond to any written communication on their cell phones.
    “I totally agree with the ban,” said Crawford County Sheriff Sandy Horton. “It clearly takes people’s minds off the road and it is a real serious one that needs a law.”
    Drivers, if spotting texting by law enforcement, can be written a $60 ticket, which can also be subject to court fines as well.
    But, law enforcement officials realize that enforcing a ban on texting while driving can be a difficult measure.
    “It may be difficult to enforce it,” said Capt. Rick Wilson, operations commander of Troop H of the Kansas Highway Patrol. “There are times when you can tell and others when you can’t, but the guys have been trained.”
    He said that troopers have been trained to look at drivers and, regarding texting while driving, pay attention to how long drivers are looking down.
    But, Horton said that law enforcement officers may have to take a slightly different approach.
    “Really, in my opinion, is that law enforcement will have to look at other infractions that can be caused by texting,” Horton said. “Those are the things that are going to lead law enforcement to ask questions.”
    Those other infractions include swerving into other lanes of traffic and running stop signs or lights.
    For the last six months, the KHP has been issuing warnings to drivers who are caught texting while driving, as a way to ease motorists into the new law.
    Wilson said that education is the key with the new measure.
    “We’re always looking for ways for drivers to pay attention rather than to be distracted,” Wilson said. “Other laws you use as much as an education tool as you do enforcement.”
    Under the new law, there are exemptions for law enforcement and emergency personnel using their phone on the job. Texts can also be read for emergency, traffic and other weather-related alerts and for motorists reading information related to the operation or navigation of their vehicle.
    Texting is also allowed in the prevention of injury to a person, damage to property or the reporting of a crime.
    “In my opinion, it should have been in effect a long time ago,” Horton said. “I hope, with the ban, drivers will take notice and realize that it’s against the law. There is a reason for the law and that is how the texting law will work and be a success.”
    The texting while driving bill was Senate Bill 300 and it was signed into law by Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson on May 24, 2010.
    Page 2 of 2 - Matthew Clark can be reached at matthew.clark@morningsun.net or at 620-231-2600, Ext. 140
     

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