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For those of you who wondering how serious legislatures and courts are taking the newest trend of texting and driving… wonder no more. A Judge in Redding, California has sentenced a 49-year-old woman to 6 years in jail after the woman crashed into a line of cars while text messaging on her cell phone, killing one of the other drivers.

According to the court records, investigators said that the woman was speeding and text messaging when she slammed into the rear of a line of cars stopped for construction. One of the vehicles she struck, carrying a 46-year-old woman, burst into flames, killing the woman.

The prosecutor in the case said that the driver had paid several bills by cell phone moments before the wreck, and was in the middle of another transaction when she struck the line of vehicles.

Those who know me would tell you that I am as big a fan of text messaging as there is. However, texting while driving is so irresponsible and inconsiderate that is rises to the level of criminal. Unfortunately, this grossly negligent trend is most prevalent in our least experienced drivers. According to SADD (students against destructive decisions) 37 percent of teens polled rated texting while driving "extremely" or "very" distracting. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 80% of crashes, and 65% of near-crashes, occur because of distracted drivers.

Despite this knowledge, and alarming number of teens admit to texting while driving. According to a AAA study, conducted in 2007, 46% of teenage drivers admitted to texting while the drive. Some experts contend that texting while driving should be considered right next to drinking and driving as a danger on our nation’s roads.

Most states have adopted legislation to crack down on texting while driving. But the laws (and penalties) differ widely. Find out about your state’s laws, or lack thereof. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones.

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