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Texting while driving must be addressed

By Staff | Nov 26, 2010

Summary: The North Dakota Legislature needs to address the texting while driving problem.

You see people doing it everyday.

You probably do it everyday, especially if you are under 30.

Despite public awareness campaigns and a patchwork of legislation across the country, texting and talking on cellphones while driving is a growing problem, with fatal consequences.

A survey just releasedby the Canadian Automobile Association shows the No. 1 safe driving concern in that country is texting and drivinga hazard identified by 88% of the respondents. It’s the first time in a decade that drinking and driving hasn’t made the top of the list.

Given that research shows cell phone use while driving creates the equivalent impairment of a 0.8 alcohol blood levelplus it’s pretty much impossible to catch a texting drivereradicating the use of these devices behind the wheel should be a top priority for law enforcement and legislators.

It’s time to get serious.

A study released last month in the United States attributed 16,000 highway deaths in that country to the use of cellphones and other handheld devices between 2001 and 2007. It’s estimated one in six highway fatalities involves a cellphone.

In the face of this and other mounting evidence, action in the North Dakota Legislature has been to dismiss the problem.

One of the primary arguments is that there are plenty of other distractions for drivers, such as eating or tuning in a radio station.

That’s hogwash. When you eat and drive, your primary focus is still the road, not a hand-held device.

Several North Dakota cities are adopting tough texting-while-driving laws and in 2011, the ND Legislature should follow suit.

The laws need to be tougher. The message needs to be clearer, especially when it comes to young people. Each year’s new crop of drivers is that much more attached to a hand-held device.

Effective public awareness efforts about texting and driving need to model the most brutal and explicit campaigns that have been effective with reducing drinking and driving. They are proven to work.

At the same time, the consequences for cellphone use behind the wheel need to reflect the seriousness of the dangers it presents. At the very least, state laws should be uniform, include stiff fines, demerit points and roadside vehicle confiscation.

It’s just too bad you can’t legislate common sense.

Jason Nordmark Publisher for The Turtle Mountain Star

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Texting while driving must be addressed

By Staff | Nov 26, 2010

Summary: The North Dakota Legislature needs to address the texting while driving problem.

You see people doing it everyday.

You probably do it everyday, especially if you are under 30.

Despite public awareness campaigns and a patchwork of legislation across the country, texting and talking on cellphones while driving is a growing problem, with fatal consequences.

A survey just releasedby the Canadian Automobile Association shows the No. 1 safe driving concern in that country is texting and drivinga hazard identified by 88% of the respondents. It’s the first time in a decade that drinking and driving hasn’t made the top of the list.

Given that research shows cell phone use while driving creates the equivalent impairment of a 0.8 alcohol blood levelplus it’s pretty much impossible to catch a texting drivereradicating the use of these devices behind the wheel should be a top priority for law enforcement and legislators.

It’s time to get serious.

A study released last month in the United States attributed 16,000 highway deaths in that country to the use of cellphones and other handheld devices between 2001 and 2007. It’s estimated one in six highway fatalities involves a cellphone.

In the face of this and other mounting evidence, action in the North Dakota Legislature has been to dismiss the problem.

One of the primary arguments is that there are plenty of other distractions for drivers, such as eating or tuning in a radio station.

That’s hogwash. When you eat and drive, your primary focus is still the road, not a hand-held device.

Several North Dakota cities are adopting tough texting-while-driving laws and in 2011, the ND Legislature should follow suit.

The laws need to be tougher. The message needs to be clearer, especially when it comes to young people. Each year’s new crop of drivers is that much more attached to a hand-held device.

Effective public awareness efforts about texting and driving need to model the most brutal and explicit campaigns that have been effective with reducing drinking and driving. They are proven to work.

At the same time, the consequences for cellphone use behind the wheel need to reflect the seriousness of the dangers it presents. At the very least, state laws should be uniform, include stiff fines, demerit points and roadside vehicle confiscation.

It’s just too bad you can’t legislate common sense.

Jason Nordmark Publisher for The Turtle Mountain Star

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