Garden City police to ticket distracted, texting drivers




You're in the car, driving on your way to school, work or even a weekend social event, and you decide to send a text message to your friend or co-worker telling them, "be there soon."

Soon may well never come. The moment you take your eyes off the road, anything could happen. A child could dart in front of your vehicle. A car could pull out in front of you.

You won't know what's happened until it's too late.

And consider this. If you're traveling at 55 mph when you make that ill-fated text, you're driving the equivalent of an entire length of a football field blind.

A lot of deadly things can happen in that blink of an eye.

The Garden City Police Department and Kansas Department of Transportation have a message for those who take the risk of texting while driving: "It can wait."

From April 18 through 28, the GCPD will be participating in an anti-texting while driving campaign sponsored by the Kansas Department of Transportation. Officers will patrol throughout the city enforcing the no texting while driving law, and looking out for speeding and seat belt violations, as well.

"The Garden City Police Department wants everyone to be safe," said Garden City police Sgt. Richard Powers. "Driving a vehicle is one of the most dangerous activities citizens do on a day-to-day basis. It is important for all drivers when operating a motor vehicle to focus on the task at hand."

According to KDOT, accidents caused by the use of cell phone distractions have been on the rise in Kansas since 2007. There were 350 accidents caused by cell phone distractions in 2007; 394 in 2008; 416 in 2009; and 518 in 2010. Of those 518 accidents, six of them resulted in deaths.

Kansans between the ages of 20 and 24 were involved in the most cell phone distraction accidents in 2010, with 173; those between 14 and 19 came in second with 136, and third were individuals between the ages of 25 and 29 with 98.

Failure to follow state law by not wearing a seat belt and texting while driving will cause you to receive a traffic citation, Powers said. Cell phone usage is banned for all learner permit and intermediate license holders, and texting is illegal for all drivers of all ages.

Texting while driving is the equivalent of driving after drinking four beers, about six times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated, and makes drivers 23 times more likely to crash, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

Some of the signs of distracted driving violations officers will look for are: hand to ear; phone on knee; nodding and looking down; delayed/slow starts; improper lane travel; and the typical signs of driving under the influence.

"Giving full attention to the task of driving can save you and others," Powers said.

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