Utah law limiting cell phone use while driving takes effect May 13

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A new cell phone law goes into effect next week, and there’s a lot of confusion about what you can and can’t do in your car.

Troopers said it is difficult to enforce cell phone laws as they are now, but when the new law goes into effect next Tuesday that's expected to change.

“This one makes it easier because any type of manipulation of a cell phone or electronic device gives us cause to stop that person and hopefully try to educate them,” said Utah State Trooper Lt. Jeff Nigbur.

There are several misconceptions about what you can can't do while driving, and now if you don't already have a hands-free device it might be time to get one. The law actually states that you can talk on your phone, but you can’t manipulate it.

"I would feel comfortable in saying that people can pick up their phone, hit the answer button and begin to talk on their phone, however, and we see it quiet often on the freeway as state troopers, people are really typing and dialing numbers and those types of things and that's what's causing crashes," Nigbur said.

You can still use your phone’s GPS navigation any time, and you can manipulate your phone in an emergency.

Troopers plan to do a blitz next week in Davis, Salt Lake, and Utah counties to educate people about the new law, but it won't be long before they start giving out $100 tickets. They said the best advice is just to stay off your phone until you get where you're going.

21 comments

    • Bob

      What if drivers paid attention to their driving and didn’t themselves or others because they weren’t paying attention to their ….. driving?

      • Mickey Bitsko

        What if we had a law that punishes people who cause accidents while paying attention to ANYTHING besides driving?

        Oh, wait….we already do.

        Typical government: If one law doesn’t work, a million certainly will. Isn’t the definition of insanity “doing the same thing again and expecting a different result”?

  • Rhonda

    I hope they enforce it on law enforcement too , almost every time I see one they are on the phone. I had one officer almost run a stop sign a few days ago, he was on his cell and not responding to a call…

  • Nick

    I remember in 2009 when WA passed the law. I was pulled over in Pullman WA for talking on my cell phone. Not more than 5 minutes later the same cop passes me talking and laughing on is cell phone. I so wanted to chase him down. The bad thing is many cops think that because the are police officers that the law does not apply to them. And that is because no one really enforces the basic laws with officers.

    • Hyatt Crystal

      I, too, was pulled over for using my cell phone (not using a hands-free device). Not even a block later, at the next light, I saw that same officer pull next to me. Talking on his iPhone. The light turns, and drives away. A black Ford Taurus pulls behind him, and BAM. Blue lights. The officer got pulled over by an unmarked state unit. Turns out, he got ticketed for using his cell phone (I know the officer’s brother). Lol. It’s RARE but, officers do get pulled over. Rather hilarious, seeing a marked unit get pulled over.

    • Mickey Bitsko

      “Distracted driving” is already illegal. It covers literally ANYTHING that distracts you from paying attention. This new law is meaningless.

  • Shelly Lund

    We just need to remember that the main reason this law was passed was tokeepus and others safe – to save lives and avoid injuries…

    • Mickey Bitsko

      If you can prove that it saved a single life in the next 10 years I’ll give you one thousand dollars in cash. I mean actually prove that THIS LAW made the slightest difference.

      Too many people have infinite blind faith in “law.” If the threat of DYING doesn’t stop people from using their phones than a vague, unenforcable “law” certainly won’t.

  • Mickey Bitsko

    LOL…..”you can talk on it but not manipulate it”. But they don’t define “manipulate.”

    We need a law that requires two laws be repealed for every law passed.

    I get that cell phones and driving don’t mix. But either make it illegal or don’t. This namby-pamby nonsense is just embarrassing.

  • Libertas

    Once again, Utah proves it is no different than a blue state. The State Legislature.is full of totalitarian RINOs.

    And for those of you who always try to pull the lame “but it keeps us safe” trump card, what else are are you willing to give up in the name of so-called safety?

    Benjamin Franklin : “People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.”

    We are no longer Americans. We are placid sheep, ruled by our overlords. This sort of thing is not a slippery slope, it’s a full on liberty-crushing avalanche.

    • Psybladez

      Misquoted unfortunately. “They who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Personal preference I suppose but, talking on my cell phone while driving is not an “essential liberty,” in my eyes.

  • Joe Martin

    Are the troopers still going to be able to drive with their laptops open and using them while driving? Are they going to remove the sticker on the back of all the trooper cars that tell you to “text” for emergencies etc??

  • none

    This article is so typical of Fox13. It introduces many more questions than it answers. Yes, it gives the facts, but no detail. It’s “empty”. Come on, Fox13, at least pretend to do some research and provide a little more useful information.

  • Uh-huh

    Does it occur to anyone that the amount of information that you need to enter into your phone’s GPS and the amount of time you need to spend looking at the return information is quite a lot more consuming than the amount of time it takes to hit ‘speed dial 2’, but that’s still legal, while the other is not? Okay. Glad we worked that out.

  • Jo

    So…you can use the GPS on your phone as much as you want, but a cop can pull you over and try and make you prove that is all you were doing? Is that it? Sounds like to me that it us just another excuse for them to pull people over to harness the public and try to find reason to shake us down for some money for the government.

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