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Utah bikers rally support for distracted driving bill

Motorcycle riders rally at the State Capitol in support of a bill that would make it illegal to hold your cell phone while driving. Photo: Kelli Pierce

SALT LAKE CITY – Dozens of bikers who showed up to the Utah State Capitol Wednesday night were asked if they knew someone who was killed or hurt in a distracted driving accident. Almost every hand went up.

The Riders Foundation organized the rally to drumming up support for a bill that would make it illegal to hold a cell phone while driving. The group has supported the bill’s passage for years.

Foundation legislative analyst Terry Marasco says it’s dangerous for everyone when someone holds their cell phone and not the steering wheel.

“For a cell phone, people feel they have to talk to it. But once they have it in their hand, they have one hand off the wheel, and they start looking at the phone. Their eyes go off the road. [In a] second or two they’ve gone 300 feet,” Marasco says.

And that can be particularly dangerous for motorcycle riders.

“They’re small. They generally can’t tell what color [we are]. Yes, [the motorcycles] have a headlight, but they’re almost invisible because people are used to seeing cars,” Marasco says.

Rally attendees also told their own stories about close calls with distracted drivers and were encouraged to get their car-driving friends involved in the campaign.

2018 was the deadliest year on record for motorcycle riders in Utah with 48 fatal crashes. Distracted driving was suspected in several of those crashes.