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A Minnesota/North Dakota showdown – over texting while driving

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Border rivals Minnesota and North Dakota have a new competition going this week: which state will have more residents pledge not to text while driving?

The pledge is part of the It Can Wait campaign, which was launched by AT&T and is now endorsed by all major wireless carriers, the Minnesota Safety Council says.

Both states have laws banning texting while driving and Minnesota's also makes it illegal to read emails or access the Internet while in traffic (which includes waiting at red lights).

As the Worthington Daily Globe reports, those willing to promise they won't text while driving are asked to text either ICWMN or ICWND to 464329.

The Minnesota/North Dakota competition started Monday and continues through 4 p.m. Friday.

Text messages, of course, are not the only distractions a smartphone brings drivers. AT&T surveys show 40 percent of drivers admit using social media while behind the wheel, the Daily Globe says.

And while many associate the problem with teenagers, AT&T says the percentage of commuters who acknowledged texting while driving was higher than that for teenagers, 49 percent compared to 43 percent.

On August 1, Minnesota increased the fines repeat offenders must pay for texting and driving.

The Department of Public Safety says distracted driving was a factor in 19 percent of the state's traffic deaths over the last five years.

The Office of Traffic Safety offers tips for how drivers can prevent distractions, starting with turning cell phones off or putting them out of reach.

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