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Crackdown On Distracted Driving

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By Rachel Holt

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV ) There is a new push in Utah to combat distracted driving.

On Tuesday, Utah drivers could face a 100 dollar fine for not only texting, but also tapping out numbers or other information on their phones.

Neighboring Utah is taking the ban on texting and driving one step further. Now, anything from surfing the web to dialing a phone number can result in a 100 dollar fine.

That fee could jump to a hefty one thousand dollars if someone is injured in an accident as a result.

"I would like Idaho to adopt something similar that prevents any use of handheld devices when operating a vehicle. Idaho isn't as strict, nor is the fine as expensive, so I applaud Utah," says Captain Robert Storm, Idaho State Police.

Idaho banned texting and driving July 1st, 2012.

The fine is 81 dollars and 50 cents.

"We implemented the no texting law a few years ago, so we don't have numbers on its impact, so all we can look at is the distracted driving numbers, so if those numbers don't decrease in the future, we may soon see increased penalties and fines," says Nathan Jerke, Idaho Transportation Department.

In the last five years, Idaho has averaged 15 distracted driving crashes each day. Even more disturbing, those crashes have resulted in 274 deaths.

Local law enforcement looks at national numbers as well.

"Nationally we've seen more than 3000 deaths and more than 400 thousand injuries in the year 2012, and we'd like to see that number decrease," Jerke explains.

It's not just a fine that should worry drivers. It's also the threat of injuring themselves or others. Something Captain Robert Storm knows all too well.

"A few years ago, somebody was texting and driving and lost control, pushed someone into a median, went across the lane, and hit a car and killed two people simply because the female wanted to text and drive, and that's not fair that she impacted someone's life," Storm says.

A few seconds, making all the difference.

Numbers on reported crashes and deaths are likely under-reported due to the difficulty in determining the role distraction plays in crashes.

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