New state texting law is really just ‘common sense’ |

New state texting law is really just ‘common sense’

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Many people, from high school students to parents, and law enforcement officers, all seem to agree that the new texting law, which took effect on Dec. 1, is a common sense law.

According to Glenwood Spring High School senior Cailey Arensman, the new law is not that big of a deal.

“From what I’ve heard around the school, not too many students are upset,” she said. “But not too many people are talking about it.”

It was Arensman’s opinion that a lot of students already thought that texting while driving was already illegal for students under the age of 18. And, she said, most students that she’s spoken with – regarding texting while driving – would agree that it’s a dangerous thing to do.

“It’s common sense that it’s an unsafe thing to do while driving,” Arensman said.

The new state law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from using a cellular phone while operating a motor vehicle. The law also prohibits drivers 18-years-of age and older from any form of manual data entry on a cellular device including texting, checking e-mail, or even dialing a telephone number.

It’s a law that Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson said makes a lot of sense.

“It’s been a growing problem for years, absolutely,” Wilson said. “The texting thing in of itself is incredibly dangerous while driving. That is just common sense. You can’t be that focused on something totally unrelated to the operation of a motor vehicle, and still be driving safely.”

Wilson said that the rising number of incidents involving cell phones in recent years prove that something needed to be done. While the police department didn’t have statistics on cell phone related auto accidents available, Wilson said that often times it was obvious that a cell phone was the culprit.

“There are a lot more accidents that are related to cell phone usage than we will ever know,” Wilson said.

Wilson added that officers often times have had some “really heavy suspicions” that a cell phone was the cause of an accident. But, Wilson said, “People are not always willing to admit that they were texting, or using a cell phone at all, when they ran into a stationary object, or ran the red light.”

According to the Colorado State Patrol, wireless phones may be used for communication while the vehicle is at rest in a shoulder lane, or while lawfully parked. They may also be used in an emergency or to contact public safety entities.

Penalties for violating the new law include a $50 fine and one-point against the driver’s license for first-time offenders. Any subsequent violations can be fined $100 and one-point against the driver’s license.

And the local law enforcement agencies are going to be taking this new law very seriously.

According to State Trooper Eric Westphal the Colorado State Patrol will not be issuing warnings, but issuing tickets will be enforced at the officer’s discretion.

“I think it’s going to depend on the agency and officers, and where they are assigned at,” Westphal said.

He expected there to be higher numbers of violations where there are larger numbers of younger people, rather than on the interstate where people don’t do a lot of texting.

Wilson said that although the new state law has taken effect, the city has yet to adopt it as a city ordinance specific to Glenwood Springs. That could take up to a month or so, but it will not prevent police from issuing tickets. The majority of traffic offenses for the City of Glenwood go through the municipal court. However, people who are issued citations by Glenwood Police will be directed to Garfield County Court until the city adopts the new law.

“We’ve got some work to do before we’re in a position to enforce it as a normal course of business,” Wilson said.

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