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Minnesota Cracking Down On Texting While Driving

State's Stricter Rules Could Be A Deterrent In Wisconsin, Transportation Officials Say

texting behind the wheel
Jason Weaver (CC-BY-NC-ND)  

Minnesota’s texting while driving fines will quadruple in August — something that safety officials hope will influence the behavior of people on Wisconsin’s roadways.

The first time a driver is caught texting in Minnesota, they’re fined $50. Under the new law, each subsequent fine will be $225.

In Wisconsin, the state Department of Transportation says average fine and court fees can end up costing a driver around $190.

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Wisconsin DOT Director of Transportation Safety Dave Pabst said Minnesota’s strengthened law will be an advantage across state lines, since it emphasizes the seriousness of the offense on all roads.

“You hear the ‘ding’ for an email or a text message and you got to see it — ​you just have to see it,” Pabst said. “That’s part of the dangers of texting, is it takes away your vision from the roadway, your thought processes and your hands.”

Pabst said texting while driving can be hard to prove in Wisconsin, but police are seeking new ways to recognize it.

The DOT awarded a grant to the Dane County Sheriff’s Department to work on Madison’s Beltline Highway and try to find the best ways to enforce texting laws. As an example, two officers will drive in a van looking for drivers who are texting. Since the van sits higher than most cars, it’s easier to observe if someone’s breaking the law. They also find it easier to spot texting and driving at night because the phone’s screen glows in the car.