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Bruce Gordon, Director of Communications
Dave Boxum  651-201-7569
Scott Wasserman  651-201-7551
April 06, 2016
Pay Attention and Live: Extra Enforcement to Remind Drivers of Distraction Dangers
More than 30 Minnesota Organizations Unite Against Distracted Driving to Kick Off Extra Enforcement Campaign

​ST. PAUL – Driver distraction can end peoples’ lives and turn the lives of those they left behind upside down.  From family and friends to neighbors and coworkers, recent distracted driving tragedies include:

  • A New Prague school bus driver walking to get his morning paper was killed by a woman allegedly responding to a text.
  • A driver sending Facebook messages ran a red light, killing a father and his young daughter in Sherburne County.
  • A 20-year-old suspected of being distracted lost control of his vehicle in Washington County, hit an embankment, went airborne and smashed into a car, killing a 22-year-year-old mother.

To enforce Minnesota’s no texting law, more than 300 law enforcement agencies across Minnesota will participate in the extra enforcement distracted driving campaign April 11 – 17.

“Extra enforcement campaigns can get people’s attention for a few days, but we need Minnesotans to pay attention year-round when it comes to distracted driving,” said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director. “The phone in your hand is such a great device for staying connected but a split second decision to use it at the wrong place and wrong time can kill you and others. Please choose safety over texting while driving and avoid other distractions.”

Reducing distracted driving requires a unified effort in Minnesota to influence each driver’s choices.

Organizations Join Effort to Speak Up for Safety
More than 30 Minnesota organizations are joining the Department of Public Safety and statewide law enforcement in calling for 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.

Federated Insurance is delivering a distracted driving message to more than 30,000 clients and to their company employees about the dangers of mobile phone distraction. Their clients have experienced nearly 30,000 crashes overall in the past 20 months, resulting in fatalities and life-changing injuries. Through videos and billboards on I-35 in Steele County, Federated Insurance is taking an active role in changing the culture of distracted driving. 

“Our employees, their families and the businesses we serve are vitally important to the success of our organization, but more importantly, we care about each and every one of them,” said Jeff Fetters, chairman, president and CEO, Federated Insurance. “My hope is that our united message against distracted driving will continue to hit home with the many people we employ and insure. It’s a personal decision that can affect so many people’s lives, and it’s a personal decision that’s smart for business.”

The organizations taking a stand against distracted driving include:

AAA Minneapolis Federated Insurance​ ​Morgan Stanley
Ameriprise Financial​ ​General Mills ​Nuveen Investments
​Andersen Windows ​Hennepin County ​Securian Financial Group
​APi Group ​Kelley Fuels, Inc. ​Sit Investment Associates
AT&T Minnesota​ ​Meagher & Geer, P.L.L.P. ​State Farm
​Briggs & Morgan ​Metro Transit ​Stinson Leonard Street LLP
Cargill​ ​Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) ​Warning Lites
​CenterPoint Energy ​Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) ​Wells Fargo
CHS, Inc.​ ​Minnesota Safety Council Ziegler, Inc.
​Comcast Cable ​Minnesota Telecom Alliance
​Ecolab ​Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx
​Engineering America ​Minnesota Trucking Association

The human and financial impact of crashes is costly to employers. A recent report by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety showed that U.S. distracted driving-related crashes cost employers $8.2 billion in 2013 — total crashes added up to $47.4 billion. The report, funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, factored in crash-related expenses such as medical care, lost productivity and property damage. 

The Devastation of Distraction

  • Preliminary numbers show that distraction was a factor in nearly 17,400 crashes in 2015, resulting in 74 deaths and 174 serious injuries.
  • In a five year period (2010 – 2014), 328 people lost their lives and 1,138 people suffered life-changing injuries in distracted driving-related crashes.
  • During the 2015 extra enforcement distracted driving campaign, law enforcement cited 909 drivers for texting and driving, a 65 percent increase over the previous year (550).

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

Under Minnesota law, drivers face a $50 fine plus court fees for a first offense and $275 in fines, plus court fees, for second and subsequent violations of the texting while driving law.

If you injure or kill someone because of texting and driving, you can face a felony charge of criminal vehicular operation or homicide.

Make the Safe 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.

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 SafetyOffice 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.
  • During the holiday extra DWI enforcement campaign, law enforcement made 2,502 DWI arrests. The statewide campaign ran over the holidays and on weekends from Nov. 25 – Jan. 2. 
  • Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts 2014 is a summary of traffic crashes derived from law enforcement reports and describes how, why and where crashes occurred and who was involved.
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