Even after the new distracted driving law became effective in July 2017, people are still driving while looking at their cell phones.
A Covington police officer is trying to change that.
David Cassina, deputy for Covington Police, said he sees a lot of drivers throughout Covington who are distracted by using their phones.
He said as of last year, out of the 1,500 traffic stops he made, a little over 300 of them were distracted driving related.
Cassina said he has tried multiple ways to go about informing people to stop using their phone while driving, but has had little luck.
That’s when he and a counterpart of his came up with the idea to pass out what are called “Cellslips” to drivers who are pulled over for distracted driving.
“It’s basically a faraday bag that when you put a cell phone or electronic device into it, it automatically puts the phone into airplane mode. Then when the driver gets to their destination and they take the cell phone out of the Cellslip, then all their text messages and phone calls and everything auto populate to the phone and they’re back in business,” Cassina said.
He said the idea is if a person is seen using their phone and are stopped, providing them with a Cellslip will be a positive way to encourage them to change their behavior of using their phone while driving. He said the slips were paid for by a grant from King County Health.
With summer just around the corner, Cassina said there will be more youth drivers out so he thought it would be important to bring this to Kentwood High School’s broadcasting department to help bring awareness about the Cellslips to their fellow students.
The Kentwood broadcasting class, taught by Lindsey Duerre, are in the process of making videos that demonstrate the dangers of distracted driving and how Cellslips can help combat that.
In the broadcasting class, students make videos that are then shown to the entire school through what’s called “Conk TV,” which is why Cassina thought it would be a good idea to have them promote Cellslips.
Kentwood juniors, Chelsey Suit and Myla Gulley, said they think the Cellslip is a good idea.
“I think it will (be good)just because it’s easy to check your phone. So I feel like it would be easy to put your phone into the slip. It’s happened before, there’s been so many car crashes from distracted driving and I think if we promote showing how many car crashes happen because of (distracted) driving then people will understand how important it is to not use the phone while driving, even if it’s in traffic or at a red light they should still use the slip for their phone all the time,” Suit said.
Gulley followed up with that by saying it will be good to promote the slips on Conk TV, it will be a hot topic among the school so kids might talk to their parents about the Cellslips who then might buy their student one to help prevent their child from distracted driving.
Both Suit and Gulley also said they would be willing to use the Cellslip if they got one.
“I would use it. When I get notifications, I usually keep my ringer on, I’m usually like ‘Oh OK, who texted me?’ Like, I get this feeling like I need to check even though I know I can wait five more minutes until I get home,” Gulley said.
Suit said she feels the same way. She also said her car has AUX cord, so she has the option to plug her phone into that and listen to music, but her car also has a radio and CD player.
“I can just use that. I don’t need music from my phone,” she explained.
According to Cassina, he is excited to see how people will react when they are put into contact with Cellslip, but he’s not really interested in tracking people to see if the Cellslips worked.
He said he is more interested in promoting a changed behavior to make the roads safer for everyone.