An ordinance that was passed in July of 2020 that made it punishable by fine to operate a motor vehicle in the state of Idaho while handling a cell phone, appears to have not been processed fully by a large number of motorists in Twin Falls.

Idaho State Ordinance 49-1401A was created with the sole intention of reducing the number of traffic accidents and fatalities caused by distracted drivers. Prohibiting the handling of "mobile electronic devices," such as cell phones, tablets and other communication agents--while operating a vehicle--could mean safer highways for Idaho drivers.

More than 20% of accidents caused on Idaho roadways since 2015 were due to distracted driving, according to data from the Department of Motor Vehicles. Since warnings ended and fines became a reality for Idaho drivers on January 1, 2021, I haven't really seen a difference when commuting to and from work. There are still far too many people in the Magic Valley handling their phones while driving.

I brought up the new law to my teenage daughter the other day, and her response was "Really?" Two weeks into the new year, and she hadn't heard about the hands-free ordinance from anyone, which is troubling because she drives daily either to work or school.

Fines begin at $75, and gradually increase to $150 and $300 for second and third time offenders. It's just not worth answering a phone, or placing a call or text from your car, if it could potentially lead to loss of life.

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