Marysville News

Distracted driving

Chief backs 'common sense' enforcement

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Marysville City Council's public safety committee addressed two traffic concerns on Nov. 13.

Police Chief Floyd Golden said there was a question raised about Marysville's distracted driver law and how well it works with the state's new texting while driving ban.

"I think they complement each other," Golden said. "I don't necessarily recommend that we take the state code and make that into a city ordinance. We already have it as a state law."

In 2010, more than 3,000 people died in distracted related crashes in the U.S., Golden said. That is why he thinks it is so important to get the word out about distracted driving.

"Our local ordinance just says no person shall operate a vehicle without giving his full time and attention to operating such vehicle. So if you look at it from that respect, it could apply to someone eating a cheeseburger or talking to the passenger," Golden said.

Committee Chair Mark Reams said young drivers need to grasp the gravity of the dangers of using cell phones while driving.

The new state law prohibits drivers younger than 18 from using cell phones in any capacity while driving. The driver must pull off the road if he or she wants to talk on the phone.

Reams proposed the police look at targeting enforcement around the high school to make sure teen drivers know they are being monitored.

"We wouldn't have a problem pulling over a drunk driver and statistics show a driver texting is more dangerous than a drunk driver," Reams said. "When they're causing danger to other drivers, then we should be coming down just as hard on them as we do a drunk drive."

Committee member Dan Fogt said teen drivers should get plenty of warning first.

"I would hate to stop kids just to prove a point. I'd rather go through the education side first," Fogt said.

Golden and Fire Chief Jay Riley agreed that any police or fire programs presented at the high school need to be consistent and offer the same message to students.

"The idea is to prevent accidents," Golden said. "We'll approach this the way the state wrote the law and approach it the way we do other laws -- common sense enforcement."

The committee also discussed traffic safety near the new Turkey Hill gas station and convenience store at Mill Road and U.S. Route 31. Members said they want to make sure the increased traffic does not cause problems for Mill Valley residents walking to the store.

Public Service Director John Mitchell suggested placing a crosswalk with flashing yellow "pedestrian crossing" signs at the west side of Cobblestone Drive.

"Taking it one step further, we thought we would put up these signs that have push buttons so they're only activated when the pedestrian pushes the button, like the ones at Scottslawn Road," Mitchell said. "That way, they're not on all the time and the traffic doesn't get used to them."

Committee member J.R. Rausch expressed concern about drivers coming around the curve as they approach Cobble stone.

"If somebody's coming towards them, it's a little difficult to see, especially in the summer," Rausch said.

"We thought about that, too, so we thought we'd put another one before the curve to forewarn those traveling that direction," Mitchell said. "They are all a radio frequency activated by the push button."

The cost of the project is estimated at $8,000-$10,000. The signs would cost about $8,000 and the remaining cost would be in concrete and striping work.

Mitchell estimated the project could be done in approximately three weeks.

City Administrator Terry Emery said drivers and pedestrians both need to stay alert.

"People get distracted. People need to know is it a tool to get people across safely, but they still have to be conscious of traffic," Emery said.

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