Local law enforcement is kicking off another crackdown on distracted driving, and what better place to send their message, than the emergency room at MCHS Mankato to talk about their Toward Zero Deaths campaign.

Distracted driving contributes to one in four crashes in Minnesota; a message far too many drivers still aren't getting.

Mayo Clinic Trauma and Injury Prevention Coordinator Peggy Sue Garber said, "I see people looking down in their laps, some people don't even hide their phones; they just have it right up here in the window, not even paying attention to the road in front of them as a nurse; I know I'm going to see them in the emergency room at some point."

Mayo Clinic has seen more and more injuries caused by distracted driving as phones and technology has become more and more prevalent.

Mayo Clinic Emergency Medicine Physician Brian Bartlett, M.D. said, "This is completely preventable. It's a lot like drunk driving; if we don't do it, it won't happen, and we won't see those injuries in our emergency room."

So authorities are sending a message of their own:

Starting next week, 6 to 7 additional officers will be out on the road ways per agency. Fines for distracted driving can hit as high as 275$ not including other fees such as court costs.

"We see the crashes on the roadway, we see the people that get injured, the people that die, all because of someone that had to answer a text or look at their phone for a simple message that could've waited," said Deputy Sheriff of Blue Earth County Tom Coulter.

"You have to make choice, are you going to be a safe driver? Do you want to put other people's life at risk? Do you want to put yourself at risk? It has to be a choice that you make to be a safe driver," said Garber

Cell phones seem to be a leading cause for distractions.

But eating, smoking, using a GPS, playing with the radio, anything that takes your focus away from the road qualifies as distracted driving.

-KEYC News 12