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Rexburg City Council passes texting rules

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Posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 11:00 pm

REXBURG - As of Wednesday night, drivers and pedestrians in crosswalks who are texting will be violating the law, as the Rexburg City Council finalized its texting ban.

Bill 1062 passed by a vote of 4-2 with Rex Erickson, Chris Mann, Brad Egbert and Adam Stout voting in the bill's favor, and Bruce Sutherland and Donna Benfield voting against it.

During the bill's discussion, several council members shared their worries about the bill.

"I hate to see us create a law that won't be enforced," said Benfield.

How authorities could decipher between a driver who is texting and a driver who is dialing a number to make a phone call was called into question.

Others would have liked to see the bill also ban talking on wireless devices while driving.

Sutherland said, "There's great merit not to have people texting or talking while driving. ... Let's make it all inclusive."

And while many agreed that talking on wireless devices can also be distracting and dangerous, texting - what Mann called "the real liability" - continued to dominate as the main focus of the discussion.

"Texting is what we're after - it's a public safety issue," said Erickson.

Bill 1062 was initially proposed in January to ban the use of hand-held wireless devices for texting while either driving or walking in a crosswalk in the city of Rexburg.

At that time, a public hearing for the bill was postponed until March 16, allowing further review. At the hearing, the bill passed its first read. A few weeks later, after being slightly modified, the bill passed its second read.

The idea behind the bill is not to punish those who are texting, but to enhance safety in the community, said those in favor of the ban.

"If we can prevent someone from being killed, that's the intent," Egbert said.



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