BY KATY MOELLER
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
Meridian police Sgt. John Gonzales and Nampa police Sgt. Matt Pavelek, both leaders in the prevention of distracted driving in Idaho, have explained how police will enforce the new law.
About texting at a stoplight or sign? They say a vehicle has to be in motion for there to be a violation. Gonzales warns that if youre still looking down at your phone when the light turns green, it can cause traffic issues.
Cars behind you see the green light and want to get going, he said, which causes not only frustration but also fender-benders.
WHATS CONSIDERED TEXTING?
Heres what the Idaho statute says:
Texting means engaging in the review of, or manual preparation and transmission of, written communications via handheld wireless devices. This definition does not include voice-operated or hands-free devices that allow the user to review, prepare and transmit a text message without the use of their hand except to activate, deactivate or initiate a feature function.
CAN YOU POST ON FACEBOOK OR TWEET WHILE DRIVING?
Meridians texting ban and the new state law allow you to use your phone as a phone to talk to someone.
The texting ban applies to all written electronic communication, including texts, emails and social media, including Facebook and Twitter, Gonzales said.
Texting encompasses more than people think, he said.
WHAT ABOUT DIALING A PHONE NUMBER?
Yes, you can legally dial a phone number and that can make it tricky for police officers enforcing the ban.
An officer has to make a judgment about whether (the typing) goes beyond what it normally takes to make a telephone call, Gonzales said.
WHAT ABOUT GPS OR MAPPING APPS?
I could see where someone could argue, are you really communicating back and forth when you are updating a map, Gonzales said.
Pavelek said if youre transmitting data electronically, youre violating the law.
Both said there are areas where the law hasnt caught up with technology. You still have to make good, smart, safe decisions for yourself it doesnt matter whether theres a law, Gonzales said. If its dangerous and its going to put you or someone else in harms way then maybe you should consider not doing it.
WILL POLICE TAKE YOUR PHONE?
Only if you are involved in a serious crash. Then it will be taken as evidence.
Citations will be based on officer observations and interviews with drivers.
Were not going to force somebody to show us their phone to make the determination whether they were texting or not, Gonzales said.
WHATS WRONG WITH MULTITASKING?
Sending or receiving a message takes a drivers eyes off the road an average of 4.6 seconds, according to one study. A car doing 55 mph can go the length of a football field in that time a long distance to drive blind.
Pavelek said hes heard that many of those cited under existing local texting bans in Idaho have been drivers who were so engrossed in texting that they didnt notice an officer driving alongside them.
Katy Moeller: 377-6413, Twitter: @KatyMoeller