TOPEKA (KSNT) - Have you ever wondered why in Manhattan and Junction City drivers can get ticketed for talking on their cell phones, yet throughout the rest of the state it's perfectly fine? Some law enforcement agencies and lawmakers are trying to create a stricter, more uniform law. They're finding out it isn't easy.
RELATED COVERAGE: Junction City limits drivers' cellphone use
Twice bills have been presented to the House that would make hands free driving a law in Kansas. Both times they've been rejected.
KSNT News has been looking in to what is stopping this law from passing.
What those opposing this law say is what if someone's driving and eating a cheeseburger or putting on makeup. Does that fall under the law? Both good points, but when it's proven time and time again that cell phone use while driving is deadly is it really worth the risk to keep putting this law off?
This story will show you why changing the culture of cell phones behind the wheel cannot only save lives but make every road in Kansas safer.
We don't have to tell you texting and driving is dangerous. It’s everywhere, on commercials, billboards, and advertisements and since 2010 texting and driving has been illegal in the state of Kansas.
So what's the problem?
"Not only maybe are you talking, maybe you get a notification, maybe it starts going on to something else, now you've just taken your attention away from the road," said Chris Bortz of Kansas Department of Transportation.
More than just texting
Just released research from AT&T shows nearly 4 and 10 smartphone users tap into social media while driving, almost 3 and 10 surf the net and surprisingly 1 and 10 video chat.
"Some people might think it’s not that big of a deal, they might think they are good at multi-tasking. The fact is, driving was never meant to be a multi-tasking activity.” said Officer Matthew Droge of the Riley County Police Department.
A family's loss
Ashley Umscheid was 19, she was heading home after her freshman year at K-State. Her life was taken mid text the same day her father passed away 9 years prior.
“She always said mom you'll always have a place in my house, I'll take care of you when you grow old," said Kay Zeit, Ashley’s mom.
"You know I could finally see her being my maid of honor when I got married and we were finally actually like really best friends," said Amanda Taylor, Ashley’s sister.
"So she started out, I can't believe it's already been 9 years and then she had sent the letter "K" but I never received it."
She was laid to rest in 2009, the following year Kansas adopted the no texting law but that same year the city of Manhattan adopted the hands free driving law.
"We had to make the decision to turn off the life support, and as a mom how do you do that."
Had Kansas gone statewide with the hands free driving law instead, how many mothers could have avoided having to bury their children?
"But obviously our hands free law in Manhattan is one step to helping drivers remember to pay attention on the road," said Officer Droge.
What lawmakers think
When law makers introduced a House bill this year for the second time that would address the hands free law it was turned down.
"That bill was designed to do that, get people to get their hands off their phone," said Captain Josh Kellerman of the Kansas Highway Patrol.
RELATED COVERAGE: Kansas lawmakers consider restricting cell phone use while driving
But, there is opposition.
"Why are you infringing on our liberties, and my comment is: are you not infringing on other people if you wreck into them, or cause an accident?" said Rep. Ramon Gonzales Jr.
Representative John Doll voted against it because he said it's not what those who voted him into office would want.
"And every law you pass you chip a little more at freedom.”
But had it passed, would the culture of cell phone use behind the wheel change? Ashley's mom thinks so.
"It’s just so infuriating, if the legislature would just pass the stricter laws people are going to think twice about it."
It’s kind of like the seat belts, when the law first came into effect people were against it but when was the last time you took off without putting on your seatbelt? You don’t even give it a second thought.
Is it worth the risk to wait?
"You know sometimes it just takes a year or two to get something through unfortunately, you know for law enforcement, KDOT - we'd love to see this right away just because we think it is going to make the roadways safer." Said Cpt. Kellerman.
Is it worth the risk to wait a year or two? In Ashley's case it was just a year too late.
"Just knowing that even 6 years later that she's not coming back that’s never going to be easier to deal with," Taylor said.
And she never got the chance to be her sister's Maid of Honor.
Currently 14 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving.
Supporters of the law in Kansas say they will present a bill again next year, their hope is it will finally pass.
Smartphone use grows beyond texting
CLICK HERE to read the full AT&T survey that details smartphone use while driving.