St. Paul, Minn. — It’s been a little more than a year since Minnesota banned texting while driving, It’s obvious many drivers haven’t received that message — or they’re ignoring it. But safety officials vow they’ll be increasingly backing up the law with education and enforcement.
“I like to feel I can multitask,” said Kristine Brewitz of Stillwater, who figures she can text message while driving, as long as there’s no traffic and the road ahead is clear. “There are times when I feel I put myself at greater risk,” she said. “But I do feel I still watch the road and look for signs and stuff. There have been a few times where I’ve been a little bit scared. I’ve never been in an accident, knock on wood.”
A Harris Interactive poll last month found about two-thirds of Americans favor restrictions on cell phone use in cars. But an even bigger majority, 80 percent, support an outright ban on text messaging while driving. The group that represents the highway safety offices of all 50 states is calling for a nationwide prohibition, too. Insurance companies are paying more attention to the issue. One study found texters are up to 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident.
Nationwide Insurance expects to offer discounts for drivers who adopt technology that blocks text messages to them while they’re in a moving vehicle. Devices and services that shut down mobile texting are expected to hit the market soon.