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Minnesota vs. North Dakota: States engage in friendly competition to keep eyes on the road

WORTHINGTON — Minnesota and North Dakota are engaging in a friendly border competition this week to garner the most pledges among drivers to keep their eyes on the road and not their phones. The pledge challenge is hosted by AT&T, the Minnesota Safety Council, the North Dakota Safety Council and the Toward Zero Deaths coalition. 

The It Can Wait pledge campaign ends at 4 p.m. this Friday. Minnesotans are encouraged to text ICWMN to 464329 and ask their friends and family to do the same. The state with the most pledges will be announced next week.

“Too many of today’s drivers are engaging in smartphone distractions that are very dangerous and potentially deadly,” said Paul Weirtz, president of AT&T Minnesota. “With this friendly competition, we hope to spread awareness about the dangers across Minnesota and North Dakota and urge all drivers to put down their phones and focus on the road.”

Businesses, high schools, and communities throughout Minnesota and North Dakota are participating in this week’s pledge challenge. The State of Minnesota is asking all state employees to take the pledge, while the Minnesota Department of Transportation (DOT) commissioner has organized an ICW challenge among all DOT employees.

New research from AT&T shows smartphone use has grown beyond texting, with seven in 10 people engaging in smartphone activities while driving. Texting and emailing are still the most prevalent. But other smartphone use behind the wheel is now common, with four in 10 drivers tapping into social media.

Among social platforms, Facebook tops the list, with more than a quarter of those polled using the app while driving. About one in seven say they’re on Twitter behind the wheel. Almost three in 10 surf the net, and surprisingly, one in 10 video chat.

Distracted driving is a contributing factor in one in four traffic crashes. In Minnesota in 2014, distracted driver-related crashes resulted in 61 deaths and more than 7,300 injuries, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

It is illegal for Minnesota drivers to read, compose or send texts/emails, and access the Internet on a wireless device while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic, such as at a stoplight or stuck in traffic.

Visit ItCanWait.com to learn more.

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