Alaska State Troopers earlier this month cited a Kenai Peninsula Borough temporary employee for texting while driving a borough truck. In a criminal complaint, Sgt. Jeremy Stone of the Anchor Point Post alleged that the driver, Brian Burns, 43, of Soldotna, drove a white Chevrolet box truck registered to the borough.
Borough Human Resources Director Stormy Brown said Burns is a temporary borough employee, but the borough cannot confirm if Burns was on duty when troopers stopped him. The borough will do its own investigation, Brown said.
According to Stone’s complaint, at at 8:08 a.m. Aug. 11 troopers received a “report every dangerous driver immediately” call alleging that a driver in a white truck swerved and crossed into the oncoming lane near Mile 138.5 Sterling Highway near Ninilchik. The truck also rubbed against a guard rail. Stone stopped the truck. He said Burns admitted to texting while driving.
Brown said borough employees are to confine use cell phone use to predefined break or lunch times, and to not use cell phones in a way that results in unsafe conditions. The borough is concerned with two issues, she said: disruptions from work and use that can affect safety. Brown noted that borough employees don’t just operate vehicles, but other equipment and machinery that cell phone use can make unsafe. Employees are required to report incidents involving troopers or damage to borough vehicles.
Texting while driving that does not involve death or injury is a class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and up to a year in prison. Texting while driving that results in death is a class A felony punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and 20 years in prison. According to the Alaska Bureau of Highway Patrol, drivers are 23 times more likely to get in a crash if texting while driving.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.