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Experts say harsh punishments needed for distracted driving

Minnesota readers may be shocked to learn that approximately 9 people are killed and 1,000 people are hurt in distracted driving car accidents each day across the United States. This is happening despite state campaigns intended to educate the public on the dangers of texting and driving. As a result, some safety advocates are pushing for stronger punishments for those who engage in the behavior.

According to researchers, punishment is the most effective way to change dangerous health behaviors. For example, drunk driving and smoking were both reduced by increasing the punishments associated with them, and seat belt use was greatly increased by the introduction of "Click-It-Or-Ticket" laws. Meanwhile, studies show that trucking companies that have rules and punishments in place regarding dangerous driving behaviors have significantly safer traffic records than companies without rules and punishments.

Experts say that like smoking, texting and other cellphone activities can be addicting. Even responsible drivers who know the dangers of distracted driving are often tempted to read texts or answer phone calls. Therefore, harsh punishments may be needed to force people to put down their phones while behind the wheel. After strict anti-distracted driving laws are adopted, experts say that a national educational campaign similar to Mothers Against Drunk Driving needs to be organized. The combination of the two efforts should reduce distracted driving deaths and injuries.

Texting while driving is a significant problem in Minnesota. Individuals who are injured in car accidents caused by a distracted driver may contact a personal injury attorney for assistance. The attorney may be able to review the details of the accident and determine whether a lawsuit is advisable. If so, an injured victim might receive financial compensation for medical expenses, lost income and other damages.

Source: Fleet Owner, "Texting and driving: A case for greater punishment," Larry Kahaner, June 11, 2018

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