BOISE At Franklin Building Supply in Boise, it takes a lot of driving to keep the business alive. That's why several years ago the company banned texting while driving.
What we were debating was, do we take that further? Do we get rid of all cell phones and personal electronic device use in our trucks, said Rick Lierz, who is President and CEO of Franklin Building Supply.
This past January the company decided to take the ban on texting one step further.
If the engine is in gear, you can't touch your phone. No hands free device, no talking on your cell phone, nothing, said Lierz.
The company implemented stiff penalties for anyone who violates the new rule.
If you get caught violating it, the first time it's a $500 fine. That's enough to get anybody's attention, said Lierz.
As the violations increase, so do the fines. However, Lierz said getting employees on board was a hard sell.
It's our lifeblood. We sell building supplies to builders and we're on the phone with them all day, said Lierz.
For Franklin Building Supply and its 200-plus vehicles, the decision to get rid of the phones in their vehicles wasn't because of any accident or injury, but rather with the belief that with as much driving as they do, it's only a matter of time before something bad happens.
That's why the company reached out to the group Focus on the Drive, asking staff members to help the management team with the new policy. The non-profit group was started by a local mother whose daughter died in a 2009 crash on Eagle Road.
Police say Kassi Kerfoot died while texting and driving.
We can make laws and we can make people aware, but the penalties aren't ever stiff enough without the education to make people aware of the real costs is in the tragedies that happen among the families, said Eric Lowe, a board member for Focus on the Drive.
Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson agrees that education, in addition to enforcement, is the answer.
As parents have discussion with your children at the dinner table tonight. Kids, have discussions with each other on this issue, said Masterson.
While it may seem a little disconnected, Masterson pointed to the Boise area as having a 97 percent compliance rate for seatbelts, which is one of the highest rates in the country. That compliance rate comes without any stiff penalties.
Masterson says we wear seatbelts because we know and understand the benefits. That knowledge comes through education.
Masterson hopes similar education will encourage all of us to put down or phones and everything else that distracts us while driving.
Rick Lierz agrees.
We're interacting with society on the roads every day and we feel a sense of responsibility for that, said Lierz.