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Banning texting while driving

Other states besides Minnesota seem to be getting the, uh, message about texting. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that California and Alaska are the latest states to ban text messaging by drivers of all ages. These two states join Minnesota, Connecticut, Louisiana, New Jersey, Washington and Washington, D.C. in banning texting while driving. In a driver simulator test, researchers found that composing a text message affected driving more than reading a text. The 17- to 24-year-old drivers used in the study had slower reaction time and were more likely to drift out of their virtual lanes.

Cheapest car: Nissan Versa

Auto Week reports that Nissan dealers will be selling the lowest-priced car in the United States, the 2009 Versa, which went on sale last month. A smaller, 1.6-liter engine and no air conditioning put the sticker price at $10,685 for the no-frills version of the Versa. Previously, with a 1.8-liter engine and air conditioning, the price was $13,685. Prices include shipping. The Versa now undercuts the previously least expensive car sold here, the 2009 Chevrolet Aveo at $12,625.

Hurst shifts gears

The company that brought you the Hurst/Oldsmobile 442 and a host of great muscle cars half a century ago is back in the business, Auto Week reports. Hurst never really left the car parts business, selling thousands of its legendary shift kits. Now, for its 50th anniversary, Hurst will unveil the 560-horsepower 2009 Hurst/Hemi Dodge Challenger. It goes into production in January.