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Patrolling For Distractions

September 28, 2012, 4:58 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Patrolling For Distractions

If you drive in Sioux Falls, you're going to have to put away your cell phone and put both hands on the wheel if you're thinking about sending a text.

The texting and driving ban starts Friday; meaning police are now looking for drivers who are trying to tap out a message while they are heading to their destination.

Behind the wheel of his patrol car, Sioux Falls traffic officer Doug Flora knows that distractions and driving don't mix.

When KELOLAND News was riding with Flora on Friday he pulled over a driver who was not texting, but simply talking on their phone and they were going 39 miles per hour in a 20 mile per hour construction zone.

"Distracted driving is one of the major causes of crashes," Flora said.

He's hoping the city's new texting and driving ban will take at least one of the distractions he sees on his patrol off the road.

"Hopefully it will curtail some of the distracted driving things that people do," Flora said.

Starting Friday, Flora can make a traffic stop if he spots any driver trying to send a message behind the wheel.

"And this texting law is a primary so it means I can pull you over for just texting," Flora said.

But spotting a driver violating the new ordinance can be more difficult than other traffic laws because it's happening inside the car. Flora thinks the ban may lead people to try and hide their texting.

"People that are going to text are going to probably hold it down lower," Flora said.

Flora didn't pull anyone over for violating the new ordinance during his shift on Friday but he believes it will only be a matter of time because while many drivers will obey the law, just like speeding there are always people who will break the law.

"I believe it will have some impact but there are going to be the general public that it doesn't matter to them and they are just going to do it out of habit. It's all about safety, keeping the streets safe."

If a driver gets caught the ticket is $95 for texting and driving, but if a driver fights it in court and loses the ticket could be up to $260.

As of 3 p.m. on Friday Sioux Falls Police hadn't written any tickets for violating the ordinance.

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