Bill targets Kansans who text and drive

TOPEKA — State lawmakers plan to consider telling drivers: "dnt txt n drv."

Texting while driving would be banned — with possible punishments including jail time — under a proposal introduced in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.

"We have to get across to people that they have to stop texting," said Sen. Jay Emler, R-Lindsborg.

The bill would not ban talking on a cell phone while driving. Emler pointed out that it is possible to keep your eyes on the road while talking but not while texting.

Kansas' proposal is modeled after a Utah law that took effect this year, Emler said.

Utah drivers are barred from texting while driving. Police can pull a driver over if he or she is spotted texting.

Nineteen states, the District of Columbia and Guam ban text messaging for all drivers, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Kansas teens will be barred from using cell phones under the state's graduated driver's license bill, which takes effect Jan. 1.

The new proposal would extend the texting ban to all drivers. It comes as text messaging's popularity is increasing.

The number of text messages sent nationwide more than doubled from 48 billion in December 2007 to 110 billion a year later, the U.S. Census Bureau's Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2010 shows.

Emler is optimistic about the proposal because it will not cost money in a year the state is strapped for cash.