BLACKFOOT — The City of Blackfoot plans to draft an ordinance to ban texting while driving.
Speaking at the Blackfoot City Council Meeting Tuesday, Blackfoot Police Chief Dave Moore said because the Idaho legislature failed to pass a texting while driving ban for the second year, local cities must take action to promote public safety in their communities. Twin Falls and Meridian have already banned texting while driving. Rexburg is considering a ban.
"The issue we have is one I feel should have been taken care of by the Idaho legislature," Moore said. "I am frustrated."
Texting while driving can currently be addressed by citing the driver with inattentive driving, but Moore said he feels that is too harsh a punishment for texting and appears as reckless driving on a driving record.
Over the next few weeks Moore plans to work with City Attorney Dan Acevedo to draft a city ordinance that will allow officers to issue a citation for texting and driving. The violation would be an infraction and will come with a $50 fine.
Moore said the police can subpoena cell phone records to prove cell phone usage at the time of the citation.
The city council plans to review the ordinance at their May 3 meeting. It will then be open for public comment.
"I know we have a lot of people who are going to disagree," Moore said. "Our argument is that the front seat of your car is not the place to be multi-tasking."
Driver inattention or distraction is a leading contributor to all motor vehicle crashes in Idaho. Twenty-five percent of injury crashes and 17 percent of all fatal crashes in Idaho in 2009 were contributed to inattentive or distracted driving.
Moore said if adopted, the city ordinance would be used first as an education tool before his officers issued citations.