American Fork May Ticket Cell-Using Drivers

American Fork May Ticket Cell-Using Drivers

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AMERICAN FORK, Utah (AP) -- Motorists committing a traffic violation in American Fork while chatting on their cell phones, eating or brushing their teeth may now receive an additional ticket for inattentive driving.

The ordinance passed by the City Council last week provides for fines up $100 for the inattentive-driving violation.

The infraction is a secondary offense, meaning that drivers can be fined only if they are pulled over for another moving violation, such as speeding or running a red light.

The ordinance also applies to eating, drinking, watching movies, putting on makeup, brushing teeth and other distractions.

"I think we are trying to include everything that would divide your attention from safely operating the vehicle," police Sgt. Shauna Greening said.

She thinks the new law will significantly reduce accidents.

American Fork is the second Utah city after Sandy to adopt an inattentive-driving ordinance. Sandy's law, adopted in 2001, also make it a secondary offense and it provides for fines up to $300.

Sandy police Sgt. Bill O'Neal many officers warn violators about the inattentive-driving law but ticket them only for their other moving infraction.

"We try not to hammer the public because a lot of people don't know about it," he said. "It's really a warning because it's amazing how you stop somebody who's talking on a cell phone and they have no idea what they have done. They don't know they ran a stop sign or a red light because they forget they are not paying attention."

Ricky Storrs, American Fork city councilman and an ambulance volunteer, said, "I don't know how many times when I am running a code with the first response (ambulance) and someone will run an intersection, then look up. They are often talking on a cell phone."

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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