'Dialing while driving' is now illegal in Utah

Salt Lake City (KTVX - ABC 4) Starting Tuesday, May 13th some of the things many people do every day on their cell phones while driving will be illegal in the state of Utah.

A new law goes into effect that will ban dialing numbers, sending text messages, entering GPS coordinates or typing in internet searches - anything that involves manipulation of a mobile device while behind the wheel.

"Manipulation meaning entering characters into the phone," Utah Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Daniel Fuhr told ABC 4 News. "Before you could enter a phone number into the phone while driving. No longer any more. You can not manipulate a cell phone while you're driving a vehicle."

Specifically the law bans sending, typing or reading text messages, instant messages or e-mail; dialing a phone number; accessing the internet; watching or recording videos and entering any data into a hand held device.

"We see all the time where the drivers driving down the road," Col. Fuhr said. "He's got the cell phone up by his eyes entering something into the phone and that's been a problem for law enforcement because we don't know what they're doing. Are they texting? Are they entering a phone number? Are the looking at video? Are they responding to something? We have no idea what they're doing and this law cleans that up for us. So now when we see manipulation of phone devices we can now stop, take action and ask questions."

What you are allowed to do is talk, view GPS navigation, use voice commands and make a call in an emergency or to report a crime.

Drivers that ABC 4 News spoke to Monday evening in West Valley City were in favor of the law.

"It's great. It's about time," Dave Dupaix said. "Pretty dangerous to be texting or dialing phones or doing anything but paying attention to your driving."

"I won't lie. I've been one to use it in the past and I've noticed it's obviously a hazard," Megan Garcia admitted. "I've seen other people, they've been in wrecks before with it so yeah I definitely think it's a good idea."

"I don't even use my cell phone while I drive you know," new Utah resident Tevita Moa said. "If my phone rings I just put it down and wait til I come to a complete stop to see who called or whatever."
In 2012 and 2013, 36 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in Utah with cell phones being the leading cause.

"We have no intention to hammer the public. We don't gain revenue from our citations," Col. Fuhr explained. "Our main goal is to save lives. We're going to educate individuals so we can save lives on Utah roadways."

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