MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – More states are making texting and driving illegal, but the number of people across the U.S. doing that has increased by 50 percent last year.
That’s according to a national study released by the federal government. That dramatic increase is also reflected in Minnesota figures.
The Minnesota State Patrol says, so far this year, there have been 945 citations issued statewide for texting while driving.
In all of last year, there were 518 issued.
The State Patrol said several factors are responsible for the increase. They said enforcement has been stepped up and more people are texting.
While texting when the car is moving may seem like an obvious violation, many citations are given when motorists are texting or accessing emails while stopped at an intersection.
“The way the law in written in Minnesota specifically prohibits texting while in traffic. So that would be at a stop sign, at a stop light, any time your vehicle is in a traffic lane,” said Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske.
The Minnesota law is written in a way that includes more than strictly texting. The law says motorists cannot “compose, read, or send an electronic message,” when the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic. That includes reading emails or surfing the web.
“Web surfing, email, any access of that type of information while driving would be illegal,” Roeske said.
Texting while driving is also on the rise because of new technology on smart phones that allow people to send voice texts. But audio texting is also against the law.
The texting law also technically includes consulting directions on your phone while your car is in traffic or at an intersection.
Roeske said citations for that are relatively rare. A texting ticket will cost you between $100 and $125.