Texting drivers will be pulled over

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Talking with a friend on a cell phone or clicking the keypad with one hand to text “Hey, I’m on my way” to a friend seems harmless. Starting tomorrow though, when the other hand is steering a vehicle in Manhattan city limits, it will be against the law.

Tomorrow, the Riley County Police Department will begin pulling over drivers who are texting or talking on their cell phones. The City Commission hopes that this law will decrease the number of motor vehicle accidents caused by cell phone use while driving.

“This new law is a good idea,” said RCPD officer Lloyd Jahns. “Cell phones are completely distracting. Accidents due to cell phone use occur almost daily.”

Jahns said enacting this law will be better for all drivers.

“It will require drivers to start paying attention to the road again,” Jahns said.

RCPD officers will begin issuing written warnings tomorrow to anyone caught driving while texting or talking on a cell phone and continue to do so for the months that follow.

Beginning January 1, 2011 drivers using cell phones will be issued a fine. The time between the written warnings and the actual fined tickets is to help Manhattan residents adjust to the change.

“Most of my friends text or talk on the phone while driving,” said Bekah Bailey, freshman in open option. “It’s going to be a tough transition but I think it will be good.”

While the use of cell phones to place and receive calls while driving is prohibited according to the law, the use of a hands-free device such as Bluetooth is permitted.

Scott Schlageck, senior in geography, said if cell phones are targeted, then any other hands-on device should also be outlawed.

“If they’re going to prohibit the use of cell phones while driving then they might as well prohibit the use of GPS, radio and iPods as well,” Schlageck said.

The state law also going into effect tomorrow only prohibits the use of texting while driving.

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