Raise your hands if you have ever heard someone say: "Dad! (or Mom!) Don't use your phone while you are driving." Thought so. Now put your hands back on the steering wheel and listen to your kids.

Texting, dialing or even scrolling through your playlist is not only risky it's illegal. Utah's new restrictions on using handheld electronic devices went into effect yesterday. The law, passed during the most recent legislative session, spells out a list of forbidden activities including texting, instant messaging, emailing, surfing the Internet, watching a video and entering data.

There are a few exceptions (some that defy logic -- like searching through your contacts), but don't bother trying to commit the list to memory. Just turn off the ringtone and stash the distraction away in a pocket or the glove box.

Rrrrrrrrrring.

OK. Before risking a potential $100 fine, or worse yet, causing a traffic accident. Ask yourself: what would I tell my child, or spouse, or best friend, if they were driving down Parley's Canyon during rush hour and their phone started ringing? Unless you have some serious issues that require professional attention, you would likely say something like: "Just let it go to voicemail." Or perhaps: "Wait a sec, you can pull over just up the road from here."

Good advice.

Judging by the heads cocked to shoulders driving into and out of Park City these days, it appears the worst cell phone offenders are adults, not teens.


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That may be because local schools and public safety officials have done an excellent job of drilling the message home: that distracted driving can be fatal. Sadly, it is also be because many young people know of peers who have been affected by a traffic accident caused by distracted drivers.

Unlike the younger generation, though, local grown-ups, with their hectic lifestyles, have adopted some bad habits texting, checking Google maps or getting a little work done during the morning commute. But now that habit may become expensive.

Utah lawmen say they will start by trying to educate drivers rather than fully enforce the complicated new rules. But why not make a resolution to get ahead of the curve by adopting your own code of cell-phone conduct?

One suggestion (being pushed primarily by electronics stores) is to invest in some hands-free Bluetooth technology. That way you can stay on the grid. But whatever happened to that magic time when you were just plain unavailable, on the road and rolling with the wind and your own thoughts? Give it a try. Your kids will be proud of you.

The new law can be read here: le.utah.gov/~code/TITLE41/htm/41_06a171600.htm