After reading "How's My Driving? Just Fine!" (March 17), my blood boils. Almost 100 percent of those 1,750 surveyed agree that texting and driving is not safe and impacts their driving, yet they still engage in that dangerous behavior — putting all other drivers at risk because of their selfish inability to share the roads responsibly.

The Office of Traffic Safety says, "What a tough nut to crack." I say slap a $1,000 or higher fine on anyone texting or e-mailing while driving. The proof is right there on the phone. Payable on the spot or your car is impounded. We have laws that have no bite behind them — our $135 fine won't deter anyone. People won't stop, because getting their hand slapped isn't enough of a deterrent. Or let's take Alaska's lead and fine people $10,000 for texting and driving.

Think of how many roads could be repaired with that money. And how many lives might be saved by finding a real deterrent to this extreme road hazard that on any day could kill any one of us. And does. Let's all stop killing people with our phones, OK? Enough is enough.

Debb Morgen, Mendota Heights

WOMEN'S ATHLETICS

Minnesota known as a leader in leveling the playing field

It was great to see the editorial on March 17 recognizing the excellence of the University of Minnesota's women's teams ("Hats off to U of M women's teams.") It might have been appropriate to delve into some of the historic reasons for these accomplishments.

First of all, in 1975, the Legislature passed the strongest women's sports equality law in the country (Minnesota Statute 121A.04). It was stronger than the federal Title IX in that Minnesota girls had the right to try out for and play on boys' teams, and there was no exemption for contact sports. A leading player pushing the U to move faster and go further was Alan Page, then a U regent, now a state Supreme Court justice. Just ask the women activists from that time how important his words and actions were in securing passage of this law.

In the case of hockey, Minnesota has another unique law requiring any arena renting ice to the public to show a fair and equitable division of ice time, particularly for prime times, between men and women. We also require charitable groups supporting youth sports to divide their funds equitably. Not only do Minnesota players fill almost the entire U women's hockey team, but many of our opponents have a preponderance of women from our state. I remember one year when Wisconsin had more players from Minnesota than from Wisconsin!

Women seldom see anything handed to them, but this issue shows they know how to fight and win.

Phyllis Kahn, Minneapolis

The writer is a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives.

• • •

The editorial continues the tradition of patronizing and second-class coverage of women's sports. Both teams' remarkable seasons have consistently garnered less attention than the men's lesser accomplishments. Earlier in the season while hunting for information on the women's hockey team, I found the story on their 20th or so straight win on the next-to-last page of the sports section. If the men won 20 straight, the story would lead the front page of the main section. Equal coverage would communicate not only the results of their efforts, but that women's sports can be just as compelling endeavors as the men's sports.

Lael M. Luedtke, Fairmont, Minn.

'RIGHT TO TRY ACT'

Believe me, it's very personal, and difficult, facing the dying

Let's make this very personal regarding the "Right to Try Act."

At nearly 83, I have been thinking about my own mortality for some time. Also, I have watched as three people, including one with ALS, lingered before death. I have heard my dearest wife whisper in my ear, perhaps when in some faraway state of mind shortly before she died: "Take me to heaven."

Imagine how that hit me. Imagine how that might hit you.

From assisted physician suicide to Linda Griffith's right to try in the process of dying (" 'Right to Try Act' gives hope to dying," March 16), I have thought about the church's position about death and my own experience as an observer of loved ones dying.

I can feel and emphasize with everyone in the throes of making a decision about the right to die.

But I cannot tell decisionmakers how to determine which way to turn. I can only tell them it is an awful experience that you cannot fully understand unless you've had to make such a determination yourself.

I do not envy how much your consciences could be torn.

Now, to take this a step further, this may be one of those times when the wisest thing lawmakers should do is withdraw from legislating, and leave this very personal, grinding decision only to the people facing this grueling dilemma.

W. F. (Bill) Cento, West St. Paul

POWDERED ALCOHOL

On the trail or in the BWCA, let adults enjoy a relaxing sip

Rep. Joe Atkins' proposal of a ban on the newly legalized powdered alcohol is, in my opinion, misinformed ("Powdered alcohol moratorium proposed," March 18).

It was invented as a product for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. His comment — "I just didn't buy the line, which was something like 'I can take it hiking with me.' I just think it's silly"— was telling. I read it out loud to my husband and when we got to the line about how one would have to carry the water anyway, we both burst out laughing. Day hikers might carry their water from the car, but we outdoor people find ours elsewhere and filter it.

He called himself out as not one of us — the many Minnesotans and tourists who hike the Superior National Trail and paddle many days into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Every ounce counts on these trips, and a cocktail after a hard day of paddling, portaging and setting up camp 30 miles from anywhere is a well-deserved treat. One that doesn't have to weigh much! Great!

It's probably not a particularly delicious product compared with the real thing; people are unlikely to buy it for home use and keep it next to the Kool-Aid. It will be sold, legally, in liquor stores to whomever wishes to legally purchase it. Don't overregulate; trust people to make appropriate decisions. People need the right to either manage themselves properly or take their lumps if they don't.

It's a legal product. Stop wasting paper and time, Rep. Atkins, and maybe go check out the BWCA.

Sarah Schacht, Eden Prairie

FOR-PROFIT COLLEGES

Graduates, check the facts on earnings and job placement

In a recent letter, the CEO of the association representing for-profit colleges attacked the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) claim that 72 percent of for-profit college graduates earn less than high-school dropouts. I checked the facts, and the CEO is wrong. The DOE issued a very strong rebuttal backing up its statistical analysis (http://tinyurl.com/o9zoa2f).

The CEO is right about one thing: Students need the best information on the success rate of colleges. Too bad the for-profit college industry is fighting the transparency legislation recommended by our office.

Lori Swanson, St. Paul

The writer is Minnesota's attorney general.