FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: July 13, 2012
CONTACT: Jennifer Reichelt, Deputy City Manager – 455-8417
BAN ON DRIVING WITH HAND HELD DEVICES
GOES INTO EFFECT AUGUST 2
GREAT FALLS, Montana – Ordinance 3090, "Use of Electronic Communication Devices While Operating a Motorized Vehicle or a Bicycle" was adopted by the City Commission on July 3, 2012. This ordinance restricts the use of hand held communication devices within the city limits while operating a motorized vehicle or bicycle and requires drivers to use a hands free device if they choose to talk on their phones while driving. The new restrictions go into effect on August 2, 2012, thirty days after adoption of the ordinance.
The ordinance was adopted after much discussion regarding the dangers of distracted driving. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, one of the most alarming and widespread forms of distracted driving is cell phone use. According to a Carnegie Mellon study, driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent. A report from the National Safety Council found that more than one out of every four traffic accidents is caused by people talking on cell phones or sending text messages.
Text messaging while driving is one of the most dangerous things drivers can do while driving. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, text messaging combines three types of distractions – visual, manual and cognitive. In essence, if you are texting while driving you are taking your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel and your mind off the task of driving.
Starting this August, drivers will begin to see new signage around town. The signage will be placed at prime locations throughout the community to remind and notify drivers about the restriction. Potential signage locations include key entryway points along 10th Avenue South, Central Avenue West as well as Highway 87 and 89. Residents and visitors alike will be subject to the new ordinance.
After August 2, those found in violation of the ordinance may be fined a minimum of $100 or up to $500. In order to be in violation of Ordinance 3090, the infraction must be witnessed by an officer and be officer initiated. The Police Department will not be investigating call in complaints.
To learn more about the ordinance and view frequently asked questions about the new restrictions visit www.greatfallsmt.net or call Jennifer Reichelt, Deputy City Manager at 455-8417.