Extra Enforcement Results in a Significant Jump in Citations for Texting and Driving

Posted by HBC Newsdesk April 27, 2015

A motorist accelerates from a stop light with a cigarette in one hand, a phone in the other and no hands on the wheel. Drivers are looking down at their phones for several seconds to send or read a text message. Law enforcement officers encountered these types of distractions during the extra distracted driving enforcement campaign— distractions that risk the lives of motorists across Minnesota.

Minnesota law enforcement officers cited 909 drivers statewide for texting and driving from April 13 – 18 (6 days). This compares to 550 drivers cited over a 10 day enforcement period last April. More than 300 law enforcement agencies across Minnesota participated in the campaign conducted by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.

While keeping motorists safe from those texting and driving, law enforcement also encountered a number of other distractions that led to various citations for unsafe driving, including:

• 66-year-old male weaving into oncoming traffic while reading a paper.
• 22-year-old speeding while putting on make-up.
• 38-year-old male swerving and steering with his knees while doing long-hand math on a piece of paper.
• Woman rolled through a stop sign, said she was distracted while arguing with her boyfriend.

Motorists can be ticketed when distractions cause unsafe driving behavior such as failure to signal a lane change, swerving and unsafe lane use.

“From texting and driving citations to other distractions, the distracted driving campaign reveals an alarming number of people who are putting themselves and others in harm’s way,” said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director.

In Minnesota, it is illegal for drivers to read, compose or send texts and emails, as well as access the web while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic. This includes sitting at a stoplight or stopped in traffic. It also is illegal for drivers with a permit or provisional driver’s license to use a cell phone while driving, except for emergencies to call 911.

Growing Concern – Texting-While-Driving Citations:
• 2010 – 847
• 2011 – 1,270
• 2012 – 1,718
• 2013 – 2,189
• 2014 – 3,200

Make the Right Choice
• Cell phones — Put the phone down, turn it off or place it out of reach.
• Music and other controls — Pre-program radio stations and arrange music in an easy-to-access spot. Adjust mirrors and ventilation before traveling.
• Navigation — Map out the destination and enter the GPS route in advance.
• Eating and drinking — Avoid messy foods and secure drinks.
• Children — Teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle and model proper driving behavior.
• Passengers — Speak up to stop drivers from distracted driving behavior and offer to help with anything that takes the driver’s attention off the road.

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