Don’t Break the Law by Texting and Driving!
Each year, almost 280,000 auto accidents occur because of distracted drivers and a large number of these are attributed to texting and using cell phones to receive, send or read electronic messages while driving. In fact, inattentiveness is fast turning into one of the most common causes of auto accidents along with drunk driving.
Kansas state authorities were quick to take note of this devastating trend and enacted an anti-texting law way back in 2011. But even after six years, there is a lot of misunderstanding about the implications of this law and the situations in which the rule applies. So, if you own a car and a cell phone and are not averse to the idea of checking your e-mails or text messages when at the stop light, this is what you need to know.
Kansas will not let your texting endanger the lives of other motorists!
The hand held use of cell phones is prohibited for novice motorists, who have not yet earned their regular driver’s license and are operating the vehicle with an intermediate license or a learner’s permit. If you have a regular driver’s license, you can use your cell phone to make and receive calls while you are driving, but texting will remain unlawful.
In Kansas, texting while driving is illegal for drivers of all ages and regardless of the type of license they hold. A lot of motorists harbor the misconception that only typing a message puts them on the wrong side of this law. Actually, you can be fined for writing, sending or reading any type of electronic communication, including emails, instant messages and text messages.
The rule is pretty straightforward, then why the confusion?
Kansas laws allow you to send, receive and read electronic messages as long as you use a hands-free (voice activated) device. In fact, you are even allowed to manually operate the phone to activate or access a feature. But, the problem lies in the implementation of the rule.
A police officer can pull you over if he/she finds you looking down at your phone for too long. Because this is a primary law in Kansas, you will be issued a ticket on the spot and you won’t have much say in the matter, unless you decide to prove yourself innocent in the local municipal court.
Now, what if you are not texting, but just scouring through your contact list? Surely, you cannot be penalized for that. After all, the law specifically states that a motorist will only be fined if he is caught texting. But, here is the $60 question, how will you prove that you were not texting?
Yes, you could show your texting records, but that would not help because your claims will be refuted with the argument that you could have been reading old messages or emails. If you feel the magistrate will be more sympathetic to your cause, think again! Take the fight to court and you will probably end up paying twice the original fine amount.
There is more at stake here than the monetary fine!
With nearly 60% of all moderate to serious car accidents attributed to distracted driving, this is an issue that simply cannot be ignored any longer. And, if you thought only young drivers and teens are at risk, you could not be more wrong. Most accidents that were traced back to the cell phone linked inattentiveness, involved drivers in the age group of 30 to 39 years.
It does not matter how old you are or how adept you are at handling your vehicle and your cell phone, the reality is that your brain is not good at multitasking. Your attention gets diverted from one task to the other, without conscious effort or realization on your part. Here are some figures that prove this point:
- – Use of cell phones when driving (both hands-free and handheld operation) increases the risk of accident by 4 times.
- – Texting raises the risk of being in a mishap by 8 times.
- – Merely reaching out for the cell phone when driving increases of risk of an accident by almost 9 times.
- – The spatial processing needed for driving dips by almost 40% when you use a cell phone.
- – Texting when behind the wheel is as dangerous as driving with a BAC of 0.8.
So, it is no surprise that nearly 84,000 crashes across the country in 2013 were a result of cell phone use.
Yet, there are exceptions to the anti-texting law!
- – Police officers, emergency services and law enforcement personnel can receive, read and send messages if it is within the scope of their duties to do so.
- – A motorist can manually feed information into a wireless device for the purpose of making or receiving a phone call.
- – A driver can check or receive an emergency alert pertaining to weather or traffic conditions or a message about the navigation or operation of the automobile.
- – Motorists are also allowed to use their cell phones (text or talk) to report illegal activity and prevent injury to person/property.
If these exceptions don’t apply to you and you really need to send or read an electronic message, you will have to get off the regular traveled part of the road before using your wireless device. No, a halt at the stop light is not considered “off road” operation. So, you will be fined for texting while you wait for the green light.
Moreover, this is a primary law, which means that you can be pulled over for this offense even if the officer does not witness your involvement in any other violation. Why not play it safe and not use your cell phone when on the road?