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DATE News (chronologically)
07/11/10
automotive
Texting and driving now illegal in 30 states
Texting and driving is risky in more ways than one. It's not only a distracting habit, but it's also illegal now in most states.

Delaware became the 30th state to ban drivers from texting or even holding cell phones when Gov. Jack Martell signed legislation last week that would levy fines on handheld cell phone use.

A week earlier, Massachusetts enacted a law entailing a $100 fine for a first texting-and-driving offense. The fine rises to $250 for a second offense, and $500 for a third.

Since July 1, it has been illegal in Michigan to text or check e-mail while driving.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood welcomed the latest bans on texting while driving.

Nearly 6,000 people were killed on American roads in 2008 in accidents caused by distracted drivers, according to the Transportation Department. It said the highest proportion involved teenage drivers.

In the law passed in Massachusetts, any drivers younger than 18 caught texting or using a cell phone while driving would have their license suspended for 60 days in addition to the fine. They would be required to take an "attitude" course before getting their license back.

"The simple fact is that texting and talking on cell phones behind the wheel is a deadly epidemic," LaHood wrote last week on the Transportation Department's Fast Lane blog.

"Some people think they can text or talk on the phone and still drive safely. You cannot do it.

"When you look at your BlackBerry for four seconds, you are driving the length of a football field without watching the road. And when you talk on your cell phone, you tell your brain it's OK to devote your primary attention to something other than your driving," he wrote.

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