Distracted Drivers

Texting and driving, it's a common habit for adept cell phone users.

And most of us are guilty of it.

"I do text and drive pretty much every single time I'm driving," said Cassidy Stai.

According to a poll conducted by PEMCO Insurance, about half of people under 35 admit to texting behind the wheel, one in 5 of those drivers also admit to talking on their phones without a blutooth as well.

In addition, drivers who admit to texting and driving say they avoid police contact by hiding their phones.

"If i feel like I'm going to send a long text out, I'll try to wait," said Stai, "But as far as sending a reply back really fast, I feel like I'm okay to send it really fast; look down and be back up and be okay."

"One time I started drifting off the road and I hit a curb and bounced back," said Haley Ackerman.

State troopers say catching drivers in the act has become a priority over the past year.

In 2012, troopers wrote up 1,000 drivers for using their phones, 50 of them for texting.

But last year, 1,300 people came into contact with troopers, and about 100 of those for texting.

An increase in contacts doesn't necessarily mean more people are breaking the law, it's also reflective of the Target Zero program; a program meant to elminate driving under the influence and also distracted driving.

"Distracted driving is definitely a part of it," said State Patrol Sgt. Matt Couchman, "That's why we're starting to take notice of the distracted driving, keeping that data so we can see what types of distracted driving are being issues within our area, so we can focus on those issues."

And while texting and driving may seem harmless, some drivers say it could be just as bad as drinking and driving.

"They're different things, but i think the damage it can cause would be the same," said Ackerman.

Both texting while driving or talking on your cell phone without a bluetooth are primary offenses, and tickets can run up to $240.

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