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Texting and driving ban now offically law in Idaho

On Sunday statewide, Idaho launched its ban on texting behind the wheel. Using your phone to send or receive a text while driving is now illegal.

“The texting law that goes into effect today, specifically bans using your phone or another communication device to send read or receive a message,” said Idaho State Police trooper Andrew Nakashima.

On Sunday, Nakashima was on the lookout for drivers texting behind the wheel. Idaho marks July 1 with a new law banning text messaging behind the wheel, and the law really is pretty narrow.

“The texting law is pretty specific,” said Nakashima.

The law makes texting behind the wheel a primary offense. That means a driver can be pulled over and ticketed if an officer sees them texting and driving.

Once a driver is caught, it’s an $81.50 fine.

The law is also separate from inattentive driving laws already on the books in Idaho.

“If you’re sending a text message and you get into a crash, chances are you’re going to get a citation for inattentive driving,” said Nakashima. “If you are driving down the road and the only reason you are stopped is because you’re texting, you will most likely get a ticket for texting and driving.”

What about those little loopholes like texting at a red light? Nakashima said it still counts as texting and driving.

“Even at a red light, you know there are situations where maybe you have an ambulance coming up behind you and you need to move your car out of the way,” he said.

Even in Sunday afternoon traffic, Nakashima couldn’t spot even one person texting behind the wheel. He said it’s a relief, considering the statistics.

“At freeway speeds, you’re traveling at almost 100 feet per second,” said Nakashima.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation compares sending one text message to driving the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour blindfolded.

The Idaho Department of Transportation reported over 1,200 serious crashes involving distracted drivers since 2009. Those crashes have resulted in 160 people killed and 1,375 people seriously injured in Idaho.

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