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Published July 14, 2010, 04:25 PM

Texting Ban in Montana Similar to Proposal in Grand Forks

Officials in Missoula Montana have a word of advice for the Grand Forks City Council: don't hang up on the texting ban yet. Missoula put its texting ban into place just over a year ago and so far officials there feel while it is a step in the right direction, they wish they were doing more.

By: Jen Dame, WDAZ

Officials in Missoula Montana have a word of advice for the Grand Forks City Council: don't hang up on the texting ban yet.

Missoula put its texting ban into place just over a year ago and so far officials there feel while it is a step in the right direction, they wish they were doing more.

It originally started as a rule on texting and talking on mobile devices while driving but public outcry put a stop to that. Now the ban on texting while driving ban in Missoula Montana has been coasting for a year.

A town similar in size to Grand Forks, Missoula, Montana has had over one year of a texting ban and in that time they have issued merely 12 citations.

"It has been somewhat hard to enforce. Our officers have no problem enforcing the ordinance, but its just hard to prove that if you see somebody looking at their phone that they're actually reading a text or texting unless you have that opportunity to observe them," says Mike Brady, Missoula Assistant Police Chief.

City Council member Dave Strohmaier sponsored the ordinance in Missoula says while it may be hard to enforce, it sends a clear message.

"The advantage, I think, of at least getting the texting ban in place is even if its not going to be used very often it, I think, sends a signal to folks that this activity is dangerous and not acceptable," says Dave Strohmaier, Missoula City Council.

The Montana Highway Patrol reported 99 deaths linked to cell phone usage in 2009 as opposed to 63 deaths from drinking and driving.

"Texting is the most egregious use of a cell phone or electronic communication device while operating a motor vehicle because you are taking your eyes off completely off the road," says Strohmaier.

Strohmaier encourages other towns like Grand Forks to go all the way, ban cell phones all together not just texting. As for Missoula, he will continue to pursue harsher ordinances against cell phone usage there as well.

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