New cellphone restrictions catch some Utah motorists by surprise


Return To Article
  • Karena Bridges SLC, UT
    April 22, 2014 9:44 a.m.

    Awesome!! I'm so tired of following behind people who are clearly unplugged. This will also give me more leverage with my teenagers.

  • jconde Provo, UT
    April 19, 2014 10:41 a.m.

    wrz, Almost every study done by a non-government agency says that the leading cause of deaths is distracted driving, NOT speeding. Speeding account for less than 15% while distracted driving is more than 70. Only the government studies say speeding is the number one killer. So this law is actually trying to tackle the real problem. However, hands free use is just as distracting as hands on use. This law was written 100% incorrectly. We need to limit the use of cell phones in cars, but not being able to click "next" on your music while you can do that on your radio is asinine and makes no sense, and honestly shows that law makers do not think of the whole picture but rather create laws on emotion.

  • Peeves Portland, OR
    April 6, 2014 7:01 p.m.

    Yeah bad idea, and on top of it it's a criminal offense, not a traffic violation?

  • jimbo American Fork, UT
    April 6, 2014 6:57 p.m.

    I can say from personal experience that using a hands free device is no less distracting than hand dialing a cell phone. The distraction is in the driver's brain, not in using their hands. Having said that, I agree with many of the posters that it seems unreasonable to try to draw the line anywhere. Things like eating while driving, adjusting the air conditioning, and having a screaming child in the car can all be as distracting as using a cell phone.

  • casual observer Salt Lake City, UT
    April 6, 2014 4:33 p.m.

    "…catch some Utah motorists by surprise…." Those are the motorists who need the law. The rest don't need the law to tell us how dangerous distracted driving is. When someone is driving on the interstate at 45 mph in the left lane or crosses 2-3 lanes to exit on I-215, chances are they are on their phone.

  • Rocket Science Brigham City, UT
    April 6, 2014 10:08 a.m.

    PP, I used that example of persons I have known personally. This issue however is a statistics and a data driven issue. If you look up and study the issue a little more than an emotional blaming emotion, or some contrived effort to take away our freedoms. The data tells us there is a tremendous danger incurred when persons use their devices while driving. A danger as significant or more so than driving while DUI. The dangers go up as well for police officers using laptops while driving, case in point; an officer in Brigham City slams into the back of a truck while using his laptop while driving.

  • tethered Salem, OR
    April 6, 2014 8:53 a.m.

    Rather than micro-managing, by writing separate laws for every possible type of device that gradually becomes popular in the market place, the State of Utah should just write laws about DISTRACTED DRIVING.

    Once I saw a driver right behind me who was SIMULTANEOUSLY: smoking, talking on a headset, and also putting on makeup.

    That should certainly clarify as being DISTRACTED away from what was happening at that traffic light.

    OREGON got it right, when it rewrote DUI laws to refer to DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE, without restricting its coverage to just alcohol. Oregon's DUI laws are broad, and include being influenced by Cough syrup; Allergy medicines; Side effects from EITHER Over-the-Counter medicines or Prescription medicines; or delayed side effects after taking Sleeping pills the previous night.

    Drowsiness is "under the influence".

    Distracting is Distracting!

  • wrz Phoenix, AZ
    April 5, 2014 9:38 p.m.

    "WRZ Please quote your source that says speeding is the number one cause of death on highways. I'd like to read the data."

    Look it up on the Internet. Can't post websites per DNews rules.

    @Mark from Montana:
    "I have lived in five different states and can tell you that Utah drivers are the worst I have seen."

    True. And the most discourteous.

    "If the UHP wants to reduce the number of crashes, then start handing out tickets for following too close."

    Absolutely! Many drivers leave less than one car length between them and the guy in front of them... at 75 MPH no less. Go figure.

    @Walt Nicholes:
    "Speeding is not a cause of accidents at all!"

    Wrong! Look it up. It's not only the prime cause of accidents, it's the prime cause of deaths on the highways.

    "Consider how many lives could be saved if speeding were better enforced."

    Never happen. Utah law enforcement apparently believes that a few deaths on the highways is worth the price of speeders getting to they're destination a few minutes early.

  • LouThe14th Salt Lake, UT
    April 5, 2014 8:36 p.m.

    Some here choose to call the new law a "nanny state", while ignoring the intent. In California, it is illegal to use a handset, but handsfree is fine. Ticket runs $150. It is also illegal to run a red light, and if you get caught on camera, the fine is $450.

    Personally, I applaud the law, since I've been using a handsfree for over four years. It auto-answers my calls, and I can even voice dial by touching a button next to my ear. In doing so, my eyes don't leave the road, and I am not distracted.

    To those who feel the distraction caused by looking at a phone is minor, hear this: six months ago, I was sitting at a stop light and was rear-ended by a young man who was looking at his phone. Over $1500 in damage to my truck and a week in pain from the impact.

    Yesterday I was on 1-15 behind a guy that weaved in / out of the HOV lane at 70 MPH. When I was able to pass, I saw he had BOTH hands occupied with texting ! I would have called the UHP, but they are not on voice dial....sigh...

  • PP Eagle Mountain, UT
    April 5, 2014 8:32 p.m.

    Rocket Science - And therein lies the problem. Legislators should not pass laws based on emotion. That is how you end up with the worst of the laws. There are many things that cause tragedies in our lives but if the were all made illegal we would sit in padded rooms all day and "those who know best" would take care of us. People fall from ladders and die. Should we add a bunch of laws regarding that? There are risks involved in life but we do the best we can.

    Had this been law at the time that young man probably still would have been texting and driving and the outcome would have been the same. A more sensible law would be one that increases the penalties if specific distracting acts contributed to an accident, not asking our police force to provide another layer of "security" for us.

  • my_two_cents_worth university place, WA
    April 5, 2014 3:20 p.m.


    "Seems like Utah is joining the liberal establishment and joining the nanny state."

    I know this might come as a surprise to you, but when you are driving you are not doing so in a vacuum. There will be other drivers on that same road as you. To assume your actions are not likely to impact others is a bit nonsensical. To put it more simply, when you are driving you do not have a right to do things that put me and the other drivers at risk and if it requires a nanny state to ensure you don't put others in danger, so be it.

  • BYR West Bountiful, UT
    April 5, 2014 3:11 p.m.

    Have you seen TWIT America on Facebook? You can post images of those texting on that site. Think People of Wal-Mart.

  • boatersteve Fruit Heights, Utah
    April 5, 2014 3:06 p.m.

    Many will object to this measure wondering why cell phones were singled out. How is changing a radio station, eating a sandwich or applying makeup any different. Many times they are not, however the major problem is that the National Transportation and Safety Board has pointed out that at any given time more than 12% of the traveling public is on a cell phone, Utah is probably much higher. I can imagine the howl from the traveling public if they new more than 1 of every 10 cars had an intoxicated driver on the road at any given time yet cell phone use, even hands free, has been shown to be the equivalent driving while impaired. Many will object to some slight depravation of their perceived civil rights, unfortunately when people cannot control themselves and put others at risk the new laws are inevitable, I am only sorry the legislature did not have the courage to ban all cell phone use. We have survived many centuries without cells phones I am sure we could survive a few minutes on the freeway without the phone.

  • rnoble Pendleton, OR
    April 5, 2014 2:00 p.m.

    transportation issues are a legitimate focus of small government thus such legislation is appropriate if not the best idea...

    WRK: checking mirrors is not a distraction but a part of driving that is often left out if distracted...

    cell phones are only one way to be distracted but because of the ubiquitous presence of technology and the worry about teen drivers, it is natural that cell phones would be targeted; it is already illegal to watch a movie from the front seat of a car for example...

    I always put down my book when traffic gets thick and/or heavy even if it is not specifically illegal...

    by demanding and encouraging driving aids in the name of safety, we have created the potential for distracted driving because it no longer takes all of our strength, attention and skill to operate these incredible machines...many of us can no longer parallel park our cars and with the new generation of cameras and parking aids and navigation aids on vehicles the next generation will have even fewer skills...

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    April 5, 2014 11:54 a.m.

    Of course people shouldn't text, play games or search the web, but making dialing a phone illegal? That's going to far.

  • Rocket Science Brigham City, UT
    April 5, 2014 11:46 a.m.

    Mayhem Mike, while 11 lives a year does not seem to be a significant number to you, when you know someone who is no longer with you because of the actions of another, that number is significant. I lost a friend and associate as two me left Logan one morning on their way to Thiokol (ATK). They were killed by a young man, whose life has since changed dramatically, who was using his device driving. We lost two friends and extraordinary rocket scientist that day but heir dear families lost husbands and fathers. This law IS NOT "nanny state" but a reasonable law for the privilege of driving and maintaining safety for all.

    I would hope that the many police officers and highway patrol officers would also refrain from using there laptops while driving. When they use their laptops for whatever reason while driving, those who are there to protect become a danger to all around them. Does the law cover officers of the law. Do the local and state policies and procedures of police departments and the state Highway Patrol prohibit this dangerous practice of too many officers.

  • PP Eagle Mountain, UT
    April 5, 2014 11:30 a.m.

    wer - Talking on the phone does not have the same distraction level as drunk driving but texting does. Talking on the phone has the same level of distraction as talking to a passenger in your car. You are either misquoting the study (which I have read) or quoting one of those ridiculous agenda driven studies.

    Cleetorn - That is the problem. You will never get that stat to zero no matter how many laws you pass, yet people like you will keep passing laws to try and control everything and everyone. Despite all the laws about pool fences and auto locking sliding doors many children still drown each year in backyard pools. Should we just outlaw pools? Laws based on emotional things are always a bad ides. Legislators should focus their energies on statistics based things yet they always seem to focus on the emotional thing that gets them the most votes.

  • Unicorn 2000 Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 5, 2014 10:38 a.m.

    While I might agree with some of the intent of this law, I think it is ironic that it has been passed in a state that's leadership is constantly beating the drum of small government and less interference from government.This law ignores the research that shows that handfree devices are just as dangerous. All they had to do is acknowledge the work aby Dr. David Strayer's at the University of Utah. But then again, we live in a state that's legislature tends to devalue education and research.
    The problem is attention and the fact that humans have a limited capacity for attention. I will be looking forward to the computer screens being removed from all law enforcement vehicles.Like that will happen. This is just another piece of bad legislation in a state that seems to specialize in bad legislation. They have ignored the facts and created another law that reinforces a double standard.

  • StaciLynn Richfield, UT
    April 5, 2014 10:22 a.m.

    Simple way to fix the problem of phones & driving, pull over if you have to make a call, or if you have to answer a call you may have been waiting for, or use a hands free device. I have teens, ever since I got a cell phone again a few years ago when my oldest one started driving I have always made a point of handing my phone to one of the kids to answer, they tell people that mom is driving & we will be stopping in 3 blocks if we are close to our destination, do they want to wait or have me all them back? Sometimes it's a call I can take on speaker phone, no different than talking to someone in the car while driving. If I am expecting a call I will pullover to take it if I am alone or I call back when I finish driving. Texting is completely off limits while driving, only okay when in the car parked in a parking lot or driveway, period! I

  • Rick2009 MESA, AZ
    April 5, 2014 10:17 a.m.

    It's about time that a law like this is passed. It is only needed because too many people feel that they can drive and pay attention to their phones instead of looking where they should be looking, at the road in front of them.

    I also agree with comments about having cops give people tickets who run red lights.

  • WRK Riverton, UT
    April 5, 2014 10:04 a.m.

    When is it going to be illegal to eat a hamburger while driving. Or even drink from a straw. Also, taking to an individual while driving could take some peoples eyes off the road for a few moments. Checking your mirrors is also a distraction. We need to pass a new law that requires all people who drive to where horse blinders (the kind that make sure you only see straight ahead) so there is no possibility of distraction.

    Or we could let common sense prevail and teach people the right way to drive and not pass a lot of un-enforceable laws.

    Option two sounds less complicated.

  • woolsocks Sandy, Utah
    April 5, 2014 9:44 a.m.

    This article needs to be more specific. If state legislatures are going to be regulating certain small and common actions, but not others, I want to know exactly where the line is. From this article, it seems like manipulating my phone in a way that I look at my phone and not the road is a punishable offense, but having the phone up against my ear and talking while driving is not. However, due to the lack of specifics in this article, and not knowing where I can find the original wording of the law, I can only assume the following: 1) If I can dial someone without looking down from the road, I'm not breaking the law. 2) If someone calls me, and I can answer the phone without looking down from the road, I'm not breaking the law. 3) If a Trooper pulls me over for talking on a cell phone while driving, and I know that my eyes never left the road in order to make/answer that call, I can know that I am innocent.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    April 5, 2014 9:19 a.m.

    "I don't dial or text a lot when I'm driving,"

    Really? Even a little is too much. Everyone thinks it won't happen to them, that they can handle it. In the meantime, people die.

  • Lolly Lehi, UT
    April 5, 2014 9:13 a.m.

    It is going to make life a lot easier. It has been very difficult to be on the phone, hold a drink, and keep an arm on the steering wheel.

  • DEW Sandy, UT
    April 5, 2014 9:02 a.m.

    We didn't have cell phones back in the old days and we did fine and kept our hands on the wheel all the time. Go ahead break the law and get pulled over. You don't like it then move to other states where they have freedom and possible deaths. I hope one of my kid will listen to us but I have a bad feeling he is going to get pulled over.

  • Cleetorn Fuaamotu, Tonga
    April 5, 2014 8:59 a.m.

    wrz, how many people need to die "in crashes attributed to distracted driving" to justify a law restricting distractions from driving? All I needed was one.

    And LovelyDeseret, Utah isn't becoming a "nanny state" just because its irresponsible drivers are going to held more accountable. Some of us have had more than enough of drivers doing everything but driving. We spoke out and our legislature responded.

    And you want to talk about “freedom?” How was my loved one exercising her freedom to drive when a kid talking on his cell phone sped through a red light and plowed in to her car?

  • Western Rover Herriman, UT
    April 5, 2014 8:53 a.m.

    Phones with voice command and Bluetooth connectivity have been out for years, so if you can afford cell phone service at all, you can afford one of these phones, used on eBay if not new from your carrier. There should be no technical reason you can't comply with this law.

    I wish the law would recognize that some traffic situations require more concentration than others. It's much less dangerous to swipe my screen (without looking) to rewind my audiobook, while driving a lightly-trafficked straight rural highway, than it is to compose a text message using an on-screen keyboard while changing from I-215 to I-15 during weekday traffic.

  • 483bzac West Valley City, UT
    April 5, 2014 8:53 a.m.

    Easy peezy. Just remember to have a Bluetooth device in your car. That will allow credible doubt if some officer gets ticket happy. Some of us have been driving and texting/calling without accident for 2 decades. It is a skill. Like anything else you get better at it with practice and developing a mindset that being safe comes first. A word in a text message can wait until a focus intensive driving task is over. I have a friend that texts all the time while driving with both hands and often looking down(knee for steering wheel). He can look at the rood going 65 and memorize a relatively straight section of a quarter mile, then look down for 12-15 seconds typing 15 words. It even works better when he uses the rumble strips and no cars are on the road. It is a skill I don't have but one can see how carefully, safely developing it can make you better than the next guy who only texts while rushing to work. He has to tell the wife to turn off the water to the garden. He wrecks because he hardly ever does it. Teen drivers should be a lot more careful.

  • MAYHEM MIKE Salt Lake City, UT
    April 5, 2014 8:27 a.m.

    How much time and how many taxpayer dollars did legislators waste getting this law passed? To save 10+ lives per year? Consider how many lives could be saved if speeding were better enforced. And yet, when "robo-cop" devices were introduced, for example, they were denounced as "unfair" and eliminated. Want to catch more speeders? Want to save more lives? Introduce more unmarked police cars and dramatically increase speeding fines. Who would risk speeding if the fine was $5,000?

  • Walt Nicholes Orem, UT
    April 5, 2014 8:03 a.m.

    Speeding is not a cause of accidents at all! Hitting someone while speeding might be, or being hit by someone who is speeding might be, but speeding can, at worst, be said to be a factor in more serious accidents.

  • LOU Montana Pueblo, CO
    April 5, 2014 7:00 a.m.

    Near Alpine I was almost hit head on by a woman yaking on a cell phone, contractor talking a big deal nearly sideswiped me a the point of the mountain, watched a BMW in Midvale blow a school zone at twice the speed limit with school children in the area talking on cell phone, watched on the news as a college student went to prison for killing people in a crash in Logan Canyon for texting and driving. Thousands of near misses and sooner or later it maybe you.

  • macnkat BEAUMONT, CA
    April 5, 2014 6:12 a.m.

    So it will be illegal to change the music on your phone, but OK to change the channel on your radio? Perhaps they should make rolling down the window a distraction as well. Over the top nanny state mentality at it's finest.

  • Mark from Montana Davis County, UT
    April 5, 2014 6:05 a.m.

    I have lived in five different states and can tell you that Utah drivers are the worst I have seen. They are on par with drivers in Sicily frankly.

    If the UHP wants to reduce the number of crashes, then start handing out tickets for following too close. That is the single biggest issue with drivers. If you are 30 behind the car in front, you are too close. Following that close does not make the person in front go faster, yet that must be what Utah drivers think will happen.

  • MRBTE11 Washington, UT
    April 5, 2014 6:00 a.m.

    I use my phone connected to my radio for music and calls, if that is now illegal that is ridiculous! What is the difference between switching the station on the radio or on my phone? My phone is mounted higher and keeps my eyes on the road better than if I change the station on the radio!

  • My2Cents Taylorsville, UT
    April 5, 2014 3:38 a.m.

    The legislators fell very short in this alternative law that is still compromising the safety of the same number of others on the road with or without holding the phone in their hands.

    The act of talking while driving is a mental distraction which is the main reason for banning the phone in hand rule. Talking is always an emotional driven from of communication and its always the emotional distractions that are deadly. Emotional distractions compromises are the biggest distractions drivers face and this VOIP should also be banned.

    The fact that speed still causes more severe injury and deaths and vehicle ejection when they go out of control has become less of a concern because the new government is putting so much faith and trust in the incorporated air bags and vehicle showroom designs to compensate for speed related deaths. But the numbers are still high and there but subdued to placate those who are in a hurry to die or kill others. Automobile homicide is a lesser crime than child discipline so its a matter of sacrificial law enforcment relevant to emotional state of advocates (squealing left winger socialist) that determines crime enforcement.

  • Gene Poole SLC, UT
    April 5, 2014 1:22 a.m.

    Hmmmm.... Law enforcement officers and emergency personnel have super powers wherein they are not distracted or have other things in their vehicles that could possibly prevent them from having full attention to the road. Amazing how the law says that they can still use their hands. I watched a sheriff in Phoenix text with both hands and drive with his knees while he was exceeding the speed limit by 20 - 30 miles an hour. Oh, that's safe. (He is an associate and I was going to lunch with him.) The law should apply to ALL citizens - period. BUT that will never happen when police consider themselves elitists anyway. Above the law. Please don't get me wrong, I do not believe that is how ALL officers are, but there are enough to endanger us minions who are in their way. Riding with this "friend" was terrifying. Could I say anything to him. Probably and he would have laughed. Maybe the police in SLC will be more aware. I sure hope so.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    April 5, 2014 1:02 a.m.

    Is this the type of small government repubs in this state brag about?

    Health care is somehow nanny government.

    While this ridiculous law is somehow giving us more freedom?


  • Iron Rod Salt Lake City, UT
    April 4, 2014 11:11 p.m.

    So which of our political leaders authored this bill?

  • BYUalum South Jordan, UT
    April 4, 2014 10:39 p.m.

    I drive down Bangeter everyday. I'd like to see a crack-down on motorists who run RED lights without ever hitting the brakes! No wonder people get killed.

  • wer South Jordan, UT
    April 4, 2014 9:55 p.m.

    This law is basically worthless. It's a terrible compromise. Drivers can still talk on the phone while driving means they will have the same reaction time as people who are DUI. What the spineless legislatures have done is state: "It's OK to drive while intoxicated."

    As a school bus driver, I have a higher vantage point while driving. Many, if not most, if not a large majority, drive while on the phone. One hand on the wheel of a large SUV (or any other vehicle), one hand holding the phone, and the mind of the driver follows the conversation.

    Ever wonder why so few, otherwise, courteous people don't use their turn signals? It's because they are on the phone and can't manage to signal, or are too distracted to realize what they are doing. Same as DUI.

  • LovelyDeseret Gilbert, AZ
    April 4, 2014 9:53 p.m.

    Seems like Utah is joining the liberal establishment and joining the nanny state. Arizona drivers get to still enjoy real freedom.

  • benjoginko Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 4, 2014 8:08 p.m.

    WRZ Please quote your source that says speeding is the number one cause of death on highways. I'd like to read the data.

  • Dr. Thom Long Beach, CA
    April 4, 2014 7:28 p.m.

    People barley drive in a consistant and responsible manner and adding texting to the mix just overcomplicates everything. Just put down the phone and drive, no one is that important unless you are the Pope or the President of the United States, and they have drivers.

  • wrz Phoenix, AZ
    April 4, 2014 6:58 p.m.

    "Eleven people died last year on Utah roads in crashes attributed to distracted driving."

    But, how many people died on the highways from speeding? Speeding is the number one cause of deaths on the highways. If the State and the Highway Patrol want to reduce deaths they should concentrate on pulling speeders over and ticketing them.