Officers from the Prairie Village Police Department (PVPD) will be stationed at busy intersections from April 18-27 in search of distracted drivers. Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) issued a grant this year to enforce the laws against distracted driving — specifically texting while driving.
It’s been three years since the state laws against texting while driving were established. According to PVPD Sgt. James Carney, drivers should be fully aware that texting while driving is a traffic violation. The average ticket for texting while driving costs $60.
Between the weeks of Feb. 14-Mar. 7, the PVPD took part in a similar initiative checking for proper seat belt usage leading up to spring break. Unlike the texting while driving enforcement, the seat belt initiative was specific to East students.
However, the upcoming program will involve the entire community, and Sgt. Carney says drivers aged 30 to 39 are most likely to be the ones ticketed for distracted driving violations. Unlike the seat belt initiative, which had officers strategically placed around East, officers will not be in set locations for this period of enforcement for distracted driving.
Senior Mary Workman got a ticket before spring break for distracted driving while she was changing the music on her iPod.
“I was scrolling through to change the music and I got pulled over,” Workman said. “I told that to the officer, but he is still counting it for using a wireless device.”
School Resource Officer Joel Porter said that drivers sometimes mistake time on the road as downtime. This leads them to thinking that using phones to communicate with people is more acceptable — and sometimes even easier.
Many officers are also coming to the conclusion that distracted driving is worse than driving drunk.
“A person who’s intoxicated may try to focus even harder on driving well, because they know they’re intoxicated,” Sgt. Carney said. “And a person who is distracted by a cell phone is more likely to be looking up at the road less often.”
On average, people who text while driving have their eyes off of the road for five seconds at a time. At 55 mph, it takes five seconds to cover the length of a football field.
Sgt. Carney hopes to use the KDOT initiative to save drivers from the consequences, that he says most drivers don’t even realize until they experience it first hand.
“If they provide the grant money again next year we will likely participate,” Sgt. Carney said.