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Distracted driving pushes texting citations upward in Minnesota

May 09, 2019 12:31PM ● By Editor

From - May 9, 2019

Facetiming. Posting on Instagram. Texting. Playing chess. Watching Law and Order and Parks and Rec. These are all fine things to do unless you’re driving like the people cited for these activities under Minnesota’s texting and wireless communications law. 

As law enforcement agencies discovered during the extra distracted driving enforcement campaign, too many Minnesotans are treating drive time as downtime instead of focusing on the number one task in their vehicle — driving. 

As Minnesotans prepare for the new hands-free cell phone law taking effect Aug. 1, changing dangerous driving behaviors now should become a top priority. 

Distracted Driving Campaign Results
• Officers, deputies and troopers cited 1,927 motorists for texting and driving during the three-week extra enforcement campaign (April 8-30), compared with 1,576 cited during last year’s two-week campaign.
• There were 2,302 seat belt citations during the three-week campaign, compared with 1,883 in 2018 (two-week campaign). 
• The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) extended this year’s campaign to three weeks, compared with two weeks in 2018 and 2017, and one week in previous years. This allowed for additional education and enforcement around a dangerous behavior that is trending the wrong direction.
• More than 300 law enforcement agencies participated during the extra enforcement campaign in Minnesota from April 8 - 30. DPS-OTS coordinated the statewide effort.

Examples of Distracted Driving Stops from Law Enforcement 
(Shared as DPS-OTS and DPS-MSP Tweets during campaign) 

• Trooper stopped a 44-year-old male in Grand Marais after spotting him watching a video while driving. Man was watching a video his wife sent him of their twins. Cited. Stop driving distracted before it stops you. 
• What TV show could possibly be so amazing that a 32-year-old female decided watching it on her phone while driving was a good idea? Parks and Rec. Yep. Parks and Rec. Don’t worry. @BlainePoliceMN pulled her over. 
• Instagram + driving = bad idea. Trooper stopped a 35-year-old male on Highway 10 & Foley Boulevard for using Instagram behind the wheel. That photo can wait. 
[email protected] stopped a 35-year-old male near Snelling/Selby. The driver admitted to playing chess on his phone. He was cited. Checkmate! 
• Is your shirt really that important? No. Trooper stopped a 21-year-old male in Duluth. Male was on Facebook sharing a photo of a shirt that he just bought. Distractions are real. Focus your attention 100% on the road. 
• 62-year-old male bus driver stopped Monday by @elkriverpolice in Anoka. Bus driver was texting while children were on board the bus. Citation issued. Distractions are real. Put them away & focus 100% on the road. 
• Worst idea we’ve heard all week. Trooper stopped a motorist in Grand Marais for texting while driving w/2 small children in the car. 34-year-old said he was texting to arrange a babysitter. Cited. 
• 34-year-old male stopped by @SOLakePD in Shorewood. Checking emails while driving w/child in back seat. Citation issued. 300+ law enforcement agencies are on the lookout for distracted drivers through April 30. 
• A trooper stopped an 18-year-old on Hwy. 169 on Friday near St. Peter. Not only was she going 96 mph, she was video chatting on Facetime. She was cited for careless driving. Extra distracted driving enforcement is now on MN roads. 
More examples of dangerous driving behaviors during the campaign can be found online. 

Citations by Agency
In the Twin Cities metro area, agencies with the most citations during the campaign included: 
• Minnesota State Patrol (Oakdale) — 222
• St. Paul Police Department — 92
• Minnesota State Patrol (Golden Valley) — 89
• Dakota County Sheriff’s Office — 74
• Blaine Police Department — 50

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