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Published June 13, 2010, 08:57 PM

Possible Texting Ban in GF

Drivers texting while behind the wheel may soon be sending that message illegally in Grand Forks.

By: Meagan Millage, WDAZ

Drivers texting while behind the wheel may soon be sending that message illegally in Grand Forks.

The city's safety committee will talk about a proposed ordinance that bans texting while driving at Tuesday's meeting.

City Council President Hal Gershman expects the law to come before the council for a vote by August.

"The issue is that when something you do endangers other people's lives, then we have to have ordinances for that to try to prevent that," Gershman says.

A commonly cited study from Virginia Tech Transportation Institute shows that drivers who text are 23 times more likely to cause an accident than undistracted drivers.

"Think of that- 23 times! Not twice, 23 times more apt to get into an accident," Gershman says.

Some local drivers agree that something needs to be done to ensure greater safety on Grand Forks roads.

"There's been too many people killed and accidents. They got to have their minds on what they're doing and their driving," Geri Ricord, a supporter of banning texting, says.

While Gershman admits an enforcement plan from the police department will be necessary, he doesn't think over-regulation is an issue.

"Protection of society, that's all it is. It's not rocket science," Gershman says.

Though the ordinance will just affect the city, it may be modeled after texting bans in 28 states and Washington D.C.

Studies show at least one in five adult drivers in the United States admits to sending text messages while driving- that number drastically increases in teenagers.

"I know from personal experience and trying to do it myself, I've really been distracted. You look down- it's like reading when you're driving," says driver Deb Monsebroten.

About 80% of accidents are attributed to distracted drivers. In contrast, drunk drivers account for roughly 33% of all accidents nationally.

Gershman says after the ordinance is drafted, it will go before the city council and then through public hearings to get citizen's opinions on the matter. Then, the city council will vote. Gershman hopes the vote will come before the end of summer.

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