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Minnesota Opinion: On a texting ban

An excerpt from recent editorials in Minnesota newspapers:

By The Associated Press

On a texting ban:

There is virtually no one who any longer suggests that texting while driving is a benign undertaking.

Many may have thought it was just mildly distracting, similar to talking on a cell phone while driving. But every bit of evidence -- and common sense -- points to texting as a highly dangerous drive-time activity.

A Minnesota state trooper noted recently that he's stopped and ticketed people who are texting while steering with their knees, no hands on the steering wheel. A fatal crash that killed two Minnetonka high school students and a train that failed to stop at a red signal, killing 25 passengers in California, are just two of the tragedies linked to texting by drivers.

Research shows texting slows a driver's reaction time by 35 percent, and that texting drivers are 23 times more likely to crash than undistracted drivers. Researchers say those texting are more likely to crash than even drunk drivers.

Legislation moving through Congress wouldn't have any direct effect on Minnesota, where texting while driving is already outlawed. But it would give a little more protection when Minnesotans drive in the 28 states where there is no ban, including some in the Midwest.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and co-sponsored by others, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is getting serious attention and a companion bill is moving through the House.

The bill would withhold 25 percent of a state's federal highway funding for states that don't agree to enact the ban.

The proposal would likely sail through easily on its own, but it will be attached to a larger transportation bill, which could lead to typical political complications.

Banning texting while driving is a reasonable step to protect public safety and to keep legislation current with new technology.

Of course, it would be even better if people didn't have to be told not to do it. No text is so urgent it's worth someone's life.

-- The Free Press of Mankato