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Aug 7, 2011 10:48 PM by KBZK

Distracted driving continues to cause problems across state

The Montana Highway Patrol reported almost 100 deaths on the road linked to distracted driving in 2009 as opposed to 63 deaths related to alcohol.

Several cities in Montana, including Butte and Billings, have banned cell phone use within city limits, but the Highway Patrol has no authority to pull over drivers using their phones while on the highways.

"Distracted driving can be visual, manual, or cognitive," said Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Hooper. "Visual is the driver taking his eyes off the roadway, manual is the driver taking his hands off the steering wheel and cognitive is the driver taking his mind off the roadway. The worst thing a driver can do is text messaging because that incorporates all three."

Hooper says about 25% of motorists he sees on the highway are doing something else while driving that would qualify as "distracted driving".

The Montana Highway Patrol is available upon request for educational programs and events.

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