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Still Texting While Driving?

If so, you’re not only ignoring a ton of safety warnings about the dangers of distracted driving, you might soon be a lot more likely to get caught.  While driving distractions include eating and drinking, talking on the phone and adjusting your CD player, the worst offender is texting. The National Highway Safety Administration says that sending or receiving texts while behind the wheel multiplies your risk of a crash by a factor of 23.  Thirty-nine states have banned texting while driving and ten states prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones altogether while driving.  Nevertheless, because texting generally takes place out of the range of police visibility, it’s difficult for them to enforce these laws.

Perhaps that’s why the federal government has recently given grants to two state law enforcement agencies to research better ways to catch people who text while driving.  According to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the grants will “help them plan and conduct high-visibility anti-texting enforcement programs.” These programs might include stationing police with binoculars on overpasses to spot texting offenders.

The grants are the first effort at a national program to improve the ability of police to catch texters. “In order to more accurately identify and effectively stop the dangerous practice of texting behind the wheel, the demonstration grants announced today call for Connecticut and Massachusetts to develop anti-texting enforcement protocols and techniques such as using stationary patrols, spotters on overpasses on elevated roadways, and roving patrols,” LaHood wrote on his official blog.

While rate hikes depend on your state laws and insurance provider, if you get caught texting while driving, your rates might rise. Estimates show that a citation for texting would result in an increase of $58 to $74 per year for New York drivers.

While the grisly statistics about auto fatalities due to texting while driving should be enough to prevent most people from doing it, perhaps the thought of getting caught and penalized with an insurance rate hike will stop other less cautious drivers from doing it.