MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Driving can be dangerous for any new teen driver, but research shows that adding texting to the mix makes matters much worse.
Sending or reading a text message distracts most teenage drivers for 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, it’s like driving the entire length of a football field while blind.
Lt. Jeff Schlumpberger with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office says it’s illegal to text and drive in Minnesota.
“It’s a big concern for us of course because many of us have children ourselves,” Lt. Schlumpberger said. “We know they like to communicate by texting.”
He says there will be extra patrols out on the roads with the start of the school year, looking to pull over any driver who appears to be distracted looking at their phone. It’s illegal to text and drive in Minnesota.
“They can’t do it while the vehicle’s in motion or in traffic,” he said.
That includes no texting even if the vehicle is stopped at a stoplight or stop sign.
The Virginia Transportation Institute found that text messaging while driving creates a crash risk 23-times worse than driving while not distracted.
Officers say the best thing parents can do is have a conversation with their kids about the life threatening dangers of texting while driving, but some of the best advice can come from their peers.
“When you’re riding with somebody that you see texting…remind them that they shouldn’t be,” he said. “Come up with some type of a plan amongst themselves on how they’re going to communicate while they’re riding in a vehicle.”
It is also illegal for drivers under the age of 18 to be talking on a cell phone while driving.