Idaho State Corporal Clint Baldwin said texting isn’t the only distraction for drivers. A distraction is anything that takes your eyes off the roadway or your hands off the steering wheel.
“It’s so easy to drift across the center line into oncoming traffic or to drift off the roadway and strike an object or something like that," said Baldwin. "Or, not see a pedestrian step out in front of you.”
Specifically, texting or talking on the phone while driving is illegal in Washington. Idaho law only specifies texting while driving. Corporal Baldwin said he’s seen a decrease in the number of people using their phones while driving since laws have been put in place, but the issue hasn’t gone away.
“Distracted driving contributes to roughly a quarter of the crashes that occur and roughly a third of fatalities that occur," said Baldwin. "The fatal crashes that occur in Idaho have been attributed to distracted driving.”
I’m standing on the corner of 21st Street and 8th Avenue; it’s one of the busiest intersections in Lewiston. We’ve been here for several minutes and we’ve only seen one person texting or using their phone.
We talked to people on the streets Wednesday to see what they had to say about driving with distractions.
“I think it’s important that you just pay attention to your driving habits ya know," said Idaho Senator Dan Johnson. "Keep your hands on the wheel and keep looking around. I’ve been an advocate for as few distractions as possible.”
“Especially with younger kids and cell phones and driving and things like that; I think it’s really good to be aware of that," said Lewiston resident.
Despite laws in place this continues to be a major safety issue, but law enforcement officer’s hope awareness will continue to lower the number of accidents caused by distracted drivers.
During the past three years distracted driving contributed to nearly one out of every four motor vehicle crashes in Idaho.