ST. PAUL – Drivers with their eyes off the road caught the eye of law enforcement statewide during Minnesota’s extra enforcement campaign April 11 – 17. Police officers, sheriff deputies and state patrol troopers participated in the campaign, handing out 972 citations to drivers for texting while driving.
More than 300 agencies conducted the concentrated enforcement of anti-texting laws to reduce the risky behavior that endangers anyone sharing the road with a distracted driver. The 972 citations during the 7-day campaign compares with 909 citations during last year’s 6-day campaign. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) coordinates the extra enforcement and awareness campaign to influence driving choices and prevent tragedy.
“Multi-tasking is often praised in our society but behind the wheel, it can be a death sentence,” said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director. “If you’re looking down at your phone, you may not see that car suddenly stopping ahead of you, that person biking along the side or that oncoming truck because you drifted across the center line. Please put the phone down and eliminate distractions to stay safe and stay alive.”
The list of citations by agency can be found online.
Risk a Distraction. Risk a Life.
Drivers choosing texting over safety jeopardize the lives of others on the road, but any potential distraction can lead to dangerous results. Violations observed during the campaign included:
- Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office stopped a driver twice in one day for texting — two different officers made the stops.
- A trooper tried to stop a texting driver for two miles before the driver pulled over. The driver wasn’t fleeing but was “extremely distracted by texting.”
- A driver was cited by Elk River Police for using social media on the phone — was cited for the same thing two days prior.
- St. Joseph police stopped a driver for running a stop sign — driver was distracted by a dog escaping its crate in his vehicle.
- Moorhead Police and Clay County Sheriff’s Office “Busted by the Bus” campaign resulted in 105 texting while driving violations.
Organizations Join Effort to Speak Up for Safety
More than 30 Minnesota organizations joined the Department of Public Safety to kick off the enforcement campaign and to ask their employees and all drivers to choose safety over texting and to eliminate distracted driving. Employees are the most valuable asset of any organization, and the choices they make commuting for work or driving for their job impacts their lives, their families, their coworkers and their employers.
Text, Drive, Ticket (Or Worse)
Choose to text and drive and motorists risk getting ticketed but the consequences can be far greater — a crash, loss of life, serious injuries and a felony charge of criminal vehicular operation or homicide. In 2015, distracted driving contributed to 174 serious injuries and 74 deaths, up from 61 deaths in 2014. From 2011 – 2015, 326 people lost their lives and 1,076 people suffered life-changing injuries in districted driving-related crashes. That compares with 350 fatalities and 1,511 life-changing injuries from 2006 – 2010.
Minnesota’s “No Texting” Law
In Minnesota, it is illegal for drivers to read, compose or send texts and emails, and go online while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic. This includes sitting at a stoplight or stop sign 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.
Minnesota law states drivers face a $50 fine, plus court fees, for a first offense. They’ll pay an additional $225 fine (for a total of $275), plus court fees, for second and subsequent violations of the texting-while-driving law.
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the Office of Traffic Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. DPS-OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for the child seats for needy families program.
DPS-OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’sToward Zero Deaths (TZD) traffic safety program. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes – education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency medical and trauma response.
Recent DPS-OTS Activity and Statistics
- “Locked Up: A DWI Booking,” gives you an inside look at the DWI booking process. Being arrested for a DWI involves more than just getting a ticket.
- More than 30 Minnesota organizations joined in the extra enforcement distracted driving campaign kick-off. The human and financial impact of crashes is costly to employers. A Network of Employers for Traffic Safety report showed that U.S. distracted driving-related crashes cost employers $8.2 billion in 2013, including expenses such as medical care and lost productivity.