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Thousands of Minnesota drivers cited for distracted driving in April

Distracted driving crackdown
Distracted driving crackdown(KTTC)
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 5:52 AM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – The Minnesota Department of Safety data shows thousands of drivers statewide were cited for distracted driving in April.

It launched its statewide distracted driving crackdown in April. Law enforcement agencies statewide increased patrols to catch distracted drivers as part of the state’s “Toward Zero Deaths” campaign.

2,843 drivers were cited for hands-free law violations from April 1-30.

“This latest enforcement campaign shows some Minnesotans are still not getting the message,” Office of Traffic Safety Dir. Mike Hanson said. “Distracted driving is dangerous driving. It’s up to every driver to put their phone away and focus their attention on the road to keep themselves and others safe and alive.”

According to DPS, some distracted driving citations included a person Snapchatting friends while driving. Another driver hit a tree and flipped their car because they were looking down at their phone. A trooper saw a driver holding her phone to her ear while driving. She reportedly said she was listening to YouTube and had it tucked under her seat belt.

The Metro area saw the most citations, with the St. Paul Police Department reporting 279.

In greater Minnesota, the Virginia-region saw the most citations at 167, and Rochester saw 100 citations.

“An average text message takes about five seconds to compose,” Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Troy Christianson said. “And at about 55 miles an hour, that’s traveling the length of a football field. That’s a long time to be looking down at your phone, and not paying attention to what’s happening in front of you. Especially on multiple roadways, or curvy roads. There are so many factors that you need to pay attention while you’re driving.”

DPS said there’s been some improvement, but work still needs to be done.

In 2010, there were 76 distraction-related traffic fatalities and 236 suspected serious injuries. In 2021, there were 27 traffic deaths related to distracted driving, with154 suspected serious injuries.

According to DPS data, in the past four years, more than 40,000 crashes have been caused by distracted driving in the state.

DPS data through May 8 shows there have been 95 traffic deaths so far this year. Eight of the deaths were related to distracted driving, with the majority being caused by speeding, impairment or not wearing a seatbelt.

For information on the Hands-Free law, visit its website.

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