Minn. texting while driving citations nearly doubleby Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The number of citations issued for texting while driving in Minnesota has nearly doubled this year — from 518 citations in 2010 to 945 citations so far this year.
The state ban on texting while driving took effect in August 2008. Despite the increase in citations, State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said it's difficult to say whether that means more people are texting while driving.
"One of the caveats of interpreting that data would be as with any new law, enforcement strategies evolve over time, and police officers and troopers and sheriff's deputies need to adapt to the new law and how they're going to enforce it," he said.
As law enforcement officials become more familiar with the law, the number of citations is likely to increase, Roeske said.
Eighteen percent of drivers surveyed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2010 reported texting or emailing while driving. Nearly half of drivers aged 21 to 24 reported texting or emailing while driving.
More than half of survey respondents said they think using a cell phone or sending a text message or email while driving does not affect their driving. However, 90 percent of respondents said they would feel "very unsafe" if their driver was doing so.
Thirty-four states, Guam, and Washington, D.C. have banned texting for all drivers, according to the report. In addition, nine states and Washington, D.C. have banned hand-held cell phone use while driving.