Archive for Sunday, February 20, 2011

Douglas County, Lawrence officials say texting ban proving difficult to enforce

February 20, 2011


No texting-while-driving tickets have been written in the city of Lawrence — and just two in Douglas County — since the state’s ban took effect on Jan. 1.

Officials say the lack of tickets isn’t an indication that people have stopped texting. Rather, it points to the difficulty in enforcing the law.

Last year, the Kansas Legislature passed a law that prohibits drivers from using a “wireless device to write, send or read a written communication.” Along with texting, the law includes instant messages and e-mails.

Starting last July, law enforcement officers could begin to issue warnings for drivers caught texting. Six months later the law went into full effect. A violation comes with a $60 ticket and in Douglas County another $93.50 in court fines.

City of Lawrence prosecutor Jerry Little said it’s not surprising that no texting cases have come his way. Because officers have to show that a driver was texting and not answering the phone or dialing a number, Little said he could see how the law would be difficult to enforce.

“It’s an important law,” Little said. “But there are lots of other laws that are just as important that can be enforced more easily, such as speeding and stop sign violations.”

Lawrence Municipal Court records, which covers the jurisdiction of the Lawrence Police Department, show that no tickets were written in January for texting and driving. Douglas County District Court records, which cover the jurisdiction of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Kansas Highway Patrol, showed two tickets have been written.

One of those tickets came after a one-vehicle rollover accident, Douglas County Sheriff Sgt. Steve Lewis said. The driver said he was texting, went off the road and then overcorrected. During the investigation, the driver admitted to texting, and officers wrote the ticket.

However, Lewis said catching people texting in the county can be hard because there isn’t the stop-and-go traffic that Lawrence has.

“It is pretty rare for us to sit there and be able to monitor and see someone texting, unless we happen to be cruising along next to them and observe that,” Lewis said.

As for the Lawrence Police Department, public information officer Sgt. Matt Sarna said he didn’t have an explanation as to why no tickets have been written.

Before the law went into full effect, Sarna noted in an e-mail that it could be difficult to tell if a person was texting or dialing a cell phone. But still, he thought that having a law would make drivers “think twice” about picking up the phone to send a message.


gccs14r 7 years, 3 months ago

I'd much rather LPD enforce proper turning technique, to include signaling, and get a handle on the folks who are running red lights and stop signs. It's starting to get bad out there.

CLARKKENT 7 years, 3 months ago


John Hamm 7 years, 3 months ago

IIRC some years back the City leaders decided that turning left across double yellow lines in downtown Lawrence was OK. This was after a flurry of tickets written and "customers" complained........

d_prowess 7 years, 3 months ago

Do you have any link that proves this? I have always been told that is not correct.

avetaysmom 7 years, 3 months ago

Me and my daughter where driving the other day, and low and behold, at a 4-way stop the policeman across from us was texting at the stop light! Yea, it will really work! NOT

sr80 7 years, 3 months ago

i think he was playing on his gameboy,no problem with that,is there???

barricade 7 years, 3 months ago

FYI, the law does excuse law enforcement from not having to follow it when they are on duty. Due to having the computers in their vehicle.

Kris_H 7 years, 3 months ago

Doesn't seem like it's that hard to tell the difference between dialing or answering the phone and texting, but you have to observe for more than a couple of seconds.

When I dial, I put the phone up to my ear when I finish dialing. When I answer a call, also the phone is at my ear. You wouldn't have the phone propped on your steering wheel with both thumbs working away at it.

If I can tell, I'm sure the police can too.

Stuart Evans 7 years, 3 months ago

not everyone texts with two thumbs propped on the steering wheel. Also, can you tell whether I'm selecting a phone number to call, switching songs on my i-pod, adjusting my GPS route, or texting? No, because I do all of those things with my index finger, and I do them while stopped. The thing is, it's not illegal to do any of those things on that same device, except for the texting. However, if I crash into someone, run a light or swerve dangerously, and I'm doing any of the above, that's called Inattentive Driving. So why do we have the additional law just for texting?

Kris_H 7 years, 3 months ago

Good point, and I hope you're not doing too much of any of those things either. Especially next to me on the turnpike. :D

Stuart Evans 7 years, 3 months ago

no, I usually only text while at stop lights, or a stop sign if there's nobody else around. I save driving and texting for when I'm fairly drunk. But don't worry, I never take the turnpike home when drinking.

ForThePeople 7 years, 3 months ago

Hummm, are they really trying very hard. I see someone texting while driving at least once a day!

Stuart Evans 7 years, 3 months ago

well duh. I'm pretty sure we covered the difficulties pretty well here in LJW forums. maybe the legislature should read here; they obviously don't have the foresight that citizens have.

friendlyjhawk 7 years, 3 months ago

Ought to get all those snits that drive around town and report unshoveled sidewalks to start reporting all the texting going on. They could have one more thing to be righteous about.

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 3 months ago

Why not just ban all cell phone use in a motor vehicle? Unless they are pulled over and parked.

Stuart Evans 7 years, 3 months ago

because passengers should have all the right in the world to text while someone else is driving. taxi cabs, limousines, buses, etc. Also, how are they going to disable the texting feature while not disabling the ability to utilize the other functions of the phone? How about people just take up a little responsibility and not be dangerous texters.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

If people acted responsibly, we could get by with many fewer laws and regulations.

rtwngr 7 years, 3 months ago

I say ban handheld devices while driving. Period.

kusp8 7 years, 3 months ago

"However, Lewis said catching people texting in the county can be hard because there isn’t the stop-and-go traffic that Lawrence has."

Not sure if that's the best way to write that sentence....actually it's a pretty crummy way to write the sentence.

gsxr600 7 years, 3 months ago

I used to text and drive a few years back in high school when I had an old flip phone. Being able to feel the buttons & T9Word made all the difference. Normally wouldn't even look down to actually text.

But now with all these touch screen phones it makes it 1000x more difficult to actually get the spelling right on anything, even with technology like swype.

Not condoning texting in any way just saying it's a lot harder to do it nowadays. Now we just need to take all cars off the road with "JO" and "WY" on their license plate and Lawrence would be a much safer drive.

yankeevet 7 years, 3 months ago

It might look like texting; but the driver maybe dialing a number

TheShaman 7 years, 3 months ago

Is there a "Distracted Driving" or similar law in Kansas?

When living in the Northeast I remember that New Hampshire had something like this. No need to legislate texting, ipods, reading newspapers, etc. when "distracted driving" covers all the bases.

Heck, I managed to find out first-hand that a Wendy's hamburger was "distracting" while behind the wheel.

difference_of_opinion 7 years, 3 months ago

Completely agree with this! It is not just texting that distracts drivers. I cannot believe how many women I see putting on makeup in the car while driving. One of which I was actually scared to be driving next too because she was spending more time looking in her visor mirror than on the busy Bob Billings 7:45 am traffic. I see someone texting at least once a day...and I actually had a woman talking on her cell phone almost run into me in the double left hand turn off Iowa to 31st because she merged from the left into the right lane (which I had been in the whole time) without even looking. When I slammed on my brakes and honked at her she was clueless I had been there. It's scary out there and there certainly aren't enough police officers patroling the street to catch them all in action. So how do you fix it?

rtwngr 7 years, 3 months ago

I am for ticketing the use of handheld devices while operating a moving vehicle. Period.

readit 7 years, 3 months ago

Was behind a woman in a white mustang leaving Hyvee yesterday. I gave her several seconds after the light turned green, and then honked lightly so she would look up from her phone and go, enabling ME to make the light. She gave me a glare in her rearview mirror, and continued to look down at her phone all the way up Kasold to 15th. There was a lot of random braking, and once she even drove into the curb. She's probably one of those people who think she's good at driving and texting.

sr80 7 years, 3 months ago

actually it was a little "my daddy is rich" sorority girl !! they can do no wrong and babs said so !!! SEE!!!

Paul R Getto 7 years, 3 months ago

1/5 of a second; that's all it takes to lose it. People need to pay attention when the drive and not mess with anything in the car if they can avoid it. This will seem quaint in a generation or two when cars and many roads will be automated (think Jetsons.) In the short term we are all at risk. The legislation was too narrowly written. Will they, this year, prohibit watching a movie while driving? Surfing the internet on the phone? The 1/5 of a second? That's how long it takes your brain to react and make your muscles do something to save you on the road, and that's just the biological reality not the technology. At highway speeds, one can cover considerable ground in the time it takes to react.

somemisfits 7 years, 3 months ago

Why not require that device manufacturers implement a method of disabling texting while the device is moving faster than 10mph? Shouldn't be too hard with all the GPS, accelerometer, etc. features in phones these days.

FlintlockRifle 7 years, 3 months ago

Like the sign @ a body shop on 6th street once said----YOUR CARS NOT A PHONE BOOTH, HANG UP AND DRIVE

burr 7 years, 3 months ago

Cell phones should be taken back to the basics. That is the only way we will ever stop using them in the data form. They are nice to have in an emergency and to make a call. But still they say that a person uses the same part of their brain to drive as they do to talk on a cell phone, it is impossible to do both at the sme time without one skill being half done. No call, text or email is as important as a life.

jumpin_catfish 7 years, 3 months ago

sit at a corner and watch mr. policemanlady and we will write more tickets then you have time for. DUH!!! OH, mr. policeman/lady stop using your phone while driving too. i see you guys doing this all the time but you're special i guess. Don't tell me you don't take texts and calls from your kids or spouse.

skinny 7 years, 3 months ago

jumpin_catfish, If you had read an earlier on here you'd have read that Law Enforcement Officers are except from the state statute and city ordinance! Duh!

weatherguy48 7 years, 3 months ago

Oh God, we need to just wipe out all of K-10 and use shuttle helicopters to get to JoCo. Trucks can take US56 or whatever.

BigPrune 7 years, 3 months ago

K, but H8 2 say it..How they catch a txtr?

(sent via text message, hidden charges apply)

Stuart Evans 7 years, 3 months ago

I can't wait until the legislation comes down that requires everyone to stay in their homes 24/7 for our safety.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

What's your solution?

Many people drink and drive, text and drive, and do other distracting things while they drive - all of which put others at risk, injure and kill them.

Stuart Evans 7 years, 3 months ago

the long term solution is to take people away from controlling the movement of the vehicle. whether that's done through mass public transportation, or personal pods, they have to remove the human factor. Because no matter how much we legislate, they will never remove all uncertainty of the human.

we're basically animals controlling machines with our instincts and coordination. since neither of those are calibrated the same from person to person, there's a lot of safety nets built in to our infrastructure; from the manufacture of the vehicle, to the roadways, signage, and laws. remove the human, and we do away with hundreds and hundreds of opportunities for mistakes. Not to mention, we make smaller roadway footprints, and create more visually appealing travel corridors.

evilpenguin 7 years, 3 months ago

I saw a cyclist not so long ago cycling with a cigarette in one hand and talking on his cell phone with the other. A complete "distracted driving" law would be better. Especially with phones, people who are driving and talking are generally the ones that try to smash into me when I'm driving.

That and people who don't know traffic laws. Not to mention impatient people. And those who don't know how to work roundabouts. And people with screaming children or animals in the back of their cars. Life is one giant distraction, lets fine them all!

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