by CHANTEE LANS
Beginning January 1, 2011 it will be against the law for anyone driving in the state of Kansas to text and drive. Instant messaging and emailing while driving will also be banned.
Both drivers and troopers with the Kansas Highway Patrol say the texting while driving ban is necessary.
"It impairs people greatly," says Master Trooper Jim Irwin of the Kansas Highway Patrol.
Irwin says he stops one motorist each month for texting while driving.
"They're concentrating on what they're wanting to send, spelling their words out, and looking at their phone, and in that time, people sometimes drift to the left, drift to the right and it has caused numerous accidents."
Some of these accidents lead to deaths.
Drivers have been allowed to text and drive in Kansas, but starting Saturday it will be illegal.
Irwin admits catching drivers will be tough.
"The easiest way is you look for other violations," he says.
Spotting signs like swerving into other lanes and forgetting to use turn signals puts troopers on high alert.
Irwin says texting while driving can get you a warning citation, but starting January 1, you can get a $60 ticket. After court fees that is $150.
"I think it should be outlawed," says Crawford County, Kansas native Kari Johnson. "I think you should have to turn off your phone completely when you drive."
Johnson says she and her two children were almost hit in a Pittsburg parking lot.
"The driver was texting and he let his foot off the brake - wasn't even paying attention but was on his phone and just starts driving forward and my two little angels start crossing the street even we were wondering if we should go or if we should stop," Johnson says.
Sharif Mekkaoui admits to texting while driving, but says he is ok with the law.
"I do it quite often, I can see the major dangers in it," says Mekkaoui. "If it helps prevent any injuries or deaths, I can see the value in it."
Trooper Irwin hopes the new law will bring the number of drivers he catches each month down to zero.