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Maine Has New Distracted Driving Law

Starting September 12th, drivers in the state of Maine who don’t pay attention behind the wheel could be paying fines in court. A new distracted driver law, aimed at decreasing accidents and increasing safety on Maine’s roadways, goes into effect and State Police promise they will be watching the roads for drivers who are not paying enough attention.

Penalties for a first offense will be more than $50 with a second offense being more than $250. Police are quick to state that they will not be looking for people talking on phones or eating, but will be watching for people who are doing those things and driving poorly, become involved in a crash or breaking other motor vehicle laws.

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Text-Messaging Behind the Wheel

First it was drinking. Then it was cell phones. Now text-messaging is the latest behind-the-wheel activity lawmakers are trying to curb.

“All of my friends do it,” says Sonalie Patel, 17, who lives in Elk Grove Village, Ill., and admits that she too occasionally sends texts despite a ban on cell phone use for drivers under 19 and adults with learners permits. “It’s like an epidemic.”

Indeed, a Nationwide Insurance survey found that 18% of cell phone owners text and drive and that drivers between the ages of 16 and 30 are the most frequent texters. Young adults have even posted videos of themselves texting while driving on YouTube, and nearly 600 people have joined a Facebook group called “I Text Message People While Driving And I Haven’t Crashed Yet!”

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Texting-driving accidents jump

The number of accidents in South Dakota that authorities blame on drivers who are distracted by cell phone use has jumped 60 percent in the four years since the Department of Highway Safety began collecting such data.

In 2004, the number of accidents tied to cell phone use was 82. By 2008, it had reached 138.

But those numbers don’t tell the whole story, officials say. For an officer responding to an accident to identify cell phone use as a contributing factor, the driver who used the phone usually must report it, Sioux Falls Police Chief Doug Barthel said.

Read the full article here.