If you’re — Hey! — If you’re driving and texting this week, police will be looking for you

Salt Lake Police Sgt. Andrew Jackson, left, fist-bumps Utah Highway Patrol Col. Michael Rapich as they gather with other law enforcement officers from across Salt Lake and Utah counties to announce a distracted driver blitz during a press conference at the Calvin Rampton Complex in West Valley City on Thursday, April 8, 2021. The UHP and 20 other agencies will conduct the statewide effort through Monday morning, with the main focus in Salt Lake and Utah counties. Police in marked patrol cars, unmarked vehicles and motorcycles will be patrolling both the freeways and side streets.

Salt Lake Police Sgt. Andrew Jackson, left, fist-bumps Utah Highway Patrol Col. Michael Rapich as they gather with other law enforcement officers from across Salt Lake and Utah counties to announce a distracted driver blitz during a press conference at the Calvin Rampton Complex in West Valley City on Thursday, April 8, 2021. The UHP and 20 other agencies will conduct the statewide effort through Monday morning, with the main focus in Salt Lake and Utah counties. Police in marked patrol cars, unmarked vehicles and motorcycles will be patrolling both the freeways and side streets. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News

Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Wade Breur has seen just about everything when it comes to distracted drivers, from people putting on makeup to eating while driving.

“Like balancing their whole meal in front of them. One time I saw an individual using a bowl of cereal, like balancing it between their knees while driving down the road, eating it while they’re steering with their knees with this bowl of cereal in front of them,” he said.

Recently, he even pulled over a man who was driving his company vehicle while participating on a video conference call with his employer.

“Totally appropriate in this time (of COVID-19 health restrictions). But not while operating a vehicle,” Breur said of the video conferencing. “He was surprised to hear it was not legal to do this.”

Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Wade Breur announces a distracted driver blitz during a press conference at the Calvin Rampton Complex in West Valley City on Thursday, April 8, 2021. The UHP and 20 other agencies will conduct the statewide effort through Monday morning, with the main focus in Salt Lake and Utah counties. Police in marked patrol cars, unmarked vehicles and motorcycles will be patrolling both the freeways and side streets.

But the No. 1 way drivers are being distracted on the road is by using their cellphones, according to the UHP. Specifically texting while driving.

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In preparation of the upcoming summer travel season, the UHP and 20 other agencies will be conducting a special distracted driving enforcement effort statewide from today through Monday morning, with the main focus being in Salt Lake and Utah counties.

Officers will be working an extra 127 overtime shifts focusing solely on distracted drivers, thanks to a federal grant.

Police in marked patrol cars, unmarked vehicles and motorcycles will be patrolling both the freeways and side streets.

In 2020, there were 4,927 crashes in Utah directly attributed to distracted driving, according to the UHP. Those crashes also resulted in 19 deaths and nearly 1,800 injuries.

So far in 2021 — from Jan. 1 through Thursday, April 8 — there have been 1,115 distracted driving crashes with one fatality. In a survey conducted by the Utah Department of Public Safety and Utah Department of Transportation, 24% of Utahns admitted to texting while driving within the past 30 days.

In preparation for Thursday’s enforcement kickoff, Breur said he counted the number of distracted drivers he …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News

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