TORRINGTON – While driving you fear the ring on your cell phone, telling you someone has just texted you. The urge is strong to pick up the phone to see who it is or you know the tone and it is a friend.
As you drive and read, the vehicle begins to drift and you run into a post. Luckly, you were not going too fast and were not hurt and neither were your children in the back seat.
This is distracted driving and includes anything that takes your attention away from the road and control of the vehicle. Reaching for something, looking for a different radio station and lighting a cigarette all are a form of distraction.
Since mobile phones were introduced, they have become one of the major causes for accidents due to driving while distracted. In 2009, 5,474 people were killed and 448,000 were injured in distracted driving accidents and 24,000 involved reports of cell phone use, according to the law firm of Edgar and Snyder. In 2016, Wyoming ranked fifth-highest in the nation for the deadliest of distracted drivers, with 19.1 deaths for every 100,000 of the population related to distracted driving.
Only 15 states have all use of cell phones banned while driving. Wyoming has no state-wide ban on handhelds, but some counties and cities have bans enacted with fines of $75 dollars. The greatest fine is in Alaska at $10,000 for distracted driving.
States with the most tickets issued for distracted driving are on the East Coast. Number one is Delaware with 13,061 and number two New York, with 11,996 tickets issued. Wyoming ranked first for the least number of tickets issued, with zero.
New York, Virginia, and Nebraska will add three or more points to your license for texting and driving, which means your insurance rates could spike if you get a ticket. Alaska and Utah are the only states with texting bans that include jail time as a penalty for the first offense. They also have the highest fines at $10,000 and $750. All but four states with texting and driving bans have primary enforcement, which means you can get pulled over for texting and driving. Ohio, Florida, Nebraska, and South Dakota are the only states with secondary enforcement,’ safewise.com.
Goshen County has laws on the books, enacted in 2010, covering the use of hand-held devices while driving. Since the law was enacted, the Sheriff’s Office has written just four citations for the violation.
Reaching for that cell phone while driving could cost you a lot of money even your life, being distracted while driving can come in many forms.