Teens asked to help discourage texting while drivingby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Public safety officials are asking teenagers to help get the word out about Minnesota's ban on texting while driving.
High school students are being asked to produce 30-second video ads that could air on local TV stations. As part of a contest, AAA Minnesota/Iowa and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety will award cash prizes of $1,000, $600 and $400 to the top three finishers.
Students have until April 19 to send in their videos, and the winning TV spot will run in spring 2010.
Public safety officials have used teen contests like this for the past five years to support other public information campaigns about driving, but it's the first time they've held a contest specifically about texting.
Teens have produced TV spots on the dangers of distracted driving, and have encouraged their peers to wear seat belts and speak up if they are having a hard time concentrating on the road due to distractions.
Texting or Web browsing while driving has been illegal in Minnesota since August 2008.
Meantime, lawmakers in Wisconsin are considering a similar ban on texting while driving. The state Senate passed such a ban Tuesday on a 27-5 vote, and a similar bill awaits action in the Wisconsin Assembly.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)