Motorists in West Jordan may have noticed some new signs popping up along their routes. They’ve made their appearance in a number of high traffic areas and carry a simple message: “Texting While Driving is Against the Law.”
City Councilmember Chad Nichols spearheaded the idea after he received a call from a constituent in July 2013.
“There had been a traffic fatality in the St. George area where texting was involved, and my constituent felt it was something we should address,” Nichols said. “He said a similar campaign had been started in St. George. So I proposed to the council that we do a similar awareness campaign, just as we’ve done with seat belts—reminding people they need to buckle up.”
Nichols took the idea to the council, which approved the plan in December 2013. His proposal was to install 150 of the No Texting signs at strategic locations around West Jordan. The council approved a budget of $8,000 for the signs.
The signs have been installed near both West Jordan and Copper Hills High Schools, City Hall and the justice center, the parking lot of the Viridian Library, parking lots at Jordan Landing and Gardner Village and numerous other “high traffic” locations.
“There’s always concern that new drivers, like those in high school, need to be reminded, but I have the same feeling about adults,” Nichols said. “I just wanted this to be a citywide effort—signs all around us.”
“Utah has the strictest laws in the country in this regard,” said Bill Baranowski, the city’s traffic engineer. “We’ll probably do more of these when we get more money. It’s a very important message to get out to our residents.”
The Utah Traffic Code currently prohibits texting while driving. There are a few exceptions built into the code. However, officers can and will enforce the no-texting law. It can be difficult to enforce because officers have to witness the offense, Nichols said.
Although approved in December 2013, the signs are just getting installed now. The $8,000 approved for this project was part of the 2014-2015 budget.
While there have been some incidents in West Jordan, the problem hasn’t been widespread. Still, Nichols is anxious to see what kind of an impact the no-texting campaign can have.
“Our police department does track the number of violations,” he said. “Theoretically, in the beginning, the number of citations should increase a bit as the law is more readily enforced. But I suspect that in time, the number will decrease, as the word gets out that we have no tolerance for texting while driving. We just don’t want distracted driving while texting to be a problem here.”