Despite laws and scientific proof, many Minnesotans still text and drive

For several years now, Minnesota has made it illegal for drivers to hold a cell phone or text while driving. Yet despite these legislative moves, it is not uncommon for people in the state to be seen tapping away on their cell phones while in their vehicles. What they don't seem to realize, or believe, is that they are increasing their risk of getting into a car accident.

Many think they can text and drive safely

A study recently conducted in Pennsylvania by two professors showed that drivers believe texting and driving is dangerous. However, 82 percent of the drivers surveyed admitted to the practice despite their belief. According to MinnPost, male drivers were more likely to text while driving than women and believed themselves to be better drivers. These drivers also showed a shared belief that they were the exception to the general rule.

In October, a 24-year-old woman was allegedly texting when she hit a pedestrian in Minnetonka. The woman seriously injured an older woman who was walking in a crosswalk. The driver is facing charges of criminal vehicular operation of a vehicle. The extent of the victim's injuries was unknown.

Justification for texting

An AT&T survey last year showed that texting is a common behavior for adult drivers, according to CBS Minnesota. Out of the people who participated, 98 percent said that they knew texting and driving was dangerous but 49 percent said that they sent text messages while driving. Often, adults will try to justify their behavior, pointing out that traffic was slow or they were stopped at a light. However, the Governors Highway Safety Association says that when people text, they do not have the ability to pay attention to other drivers.

Distraction.gov points out several facts about texting and driving and these facts include:

  • When people are traveling at 55 miles per hour and send a text message, they take their eyes off the road for about 4.6 seconds. During that time the car will travel the entire length of a football field.
  • 660,000 drivers in the United States use electronic devices or cellphones while driving.
  • The risk of getting into a car accident is three times greater when drivers engage in texting and other visual manual subtasks.
  • In the United States, including all American-held territories, there were over 171.3 billion text messages sent by December 2012.
  • Text messaging is considered the most distractive behavior due to the fact that drivers take their hands off the wheel, their eyes off the road and their minds off of the task of driving.

In 2012, 421,000 people were injured because of distracted drivers and over 3300 people were killed in the U.S. While people may believe that they can safely engage with their phone while driving, the fact is that they are putting themselves and others at great risk. When people are injured because of the negligence of others, they should talk with an attorney about seeking appropriate compensation.