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Texting while driving is a deadly combination

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opinion Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

Driving under the influence — of alcohol or drugs — has been the target of federal, state and local campaigns, teaming up with groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Why? Many lives, families and many of them teens have been killed by drunken drivers. Well, there’s a new target that has gotten the attention of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. What is it? Texting while driving.

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Many states have made the practice of driving and texting against the law, for obvious reasons. One obvious reason is that most people are not capable of operating a 4,000 pound vehicle at high or low speed while hitting small buttons on an iPhone. Yet, millions of people can be spotted on our highways doing what is impossible. Many wrecks on today’s roads are a result of texting to a friend or family information that, once the records are checked, is inconsequential information. Especially, when one considers the life of the texter and those put in danger by sharing the road with someone so distracted.

Distracted driving is a factor in one out of four vehicle crashes in Minnesota, State Police say. In 2011, about 350 people died in vehicle accidents overall, the lowest number since the 1940s.

“A texting ban became law in 2008, but State Police complain it is ‘a very difficult law to enforce,’” according to Minnesota House of Representatives website.

One could preach all day about the dangers that teens and adults face while driving and texting, but perhaps the most memorable event involves the wife of ex-Minnesota Viking tight end Joe Senser who hit and killed a man while on a cell phone, prosecutors say. Yes, I know, it wasn’t texting, but it was a distraction. She was found guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

Had she not been on her cell, perhaps she would have noticed the man along the freeway exit ramp that was trying to tend to his stalled vehicle. Amy Senser is paying a steep price for her inattentive driving. However, the family of the man she was convicted of killing, Anousone Phanthavong, 38, of Roseville, has suffered greatly. I cannot believe there is a text or cell phone call so important that Mr. Phanthavong had to lose his life in the process.

—Keith Hansen

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