Distracted drivers believe the myth they can multitask behind the wheel. Those killed by distracted drivers — a college student, a pregnant mother, a cross country runner — tragically dispel that myth. The list of hopes, dreams and lives taken away by distraction goes on and on, and law enforcement statewide is working to stop it.
Distracted driving-related crashes claim an average of 45 lives each year, causing a lifetime of grief and pain for the families left behind and an untold story of what could have been.
To increase awareness and change dangerous behaviors, more than 300 Minnesota law enforcement agencies will begin a three-week extra distracted driving enforcement campaign starting April 8. The distracted driving campaign, which runs through April 30, is coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.
“Imagine how you would react if an officer knocked on your door and told you a loved one died in a car crash,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “Too many Minnesotans don’t have to imagine, because it’s their sobering reality. Distractions are real and lead to dreams shattered and lives cut short in a second. Protect everyone around you by putting the distractions away and focusing 100 percent on the road.”
Distracted Driving is Dangerous Driving
- Continuing a six-year trend, texting citations climbed 30 percent from 2017 to 2018.
- Distracted driving contributes to one in five crashes in Minnesota.
- Distracted driving contributes to an average of 45 deaths and 204 life-changing injuries a year (2014 – 2018 preliminary).
Campaign History (2015-2018) – A Disturbing Trend
- During the 2018 distracted driving extra enforcement campaign, law enforcement cited 1,576 people for texting and driving.
- During the 2017 distracted driving extra enforcement campaign, law enforcement cited 1,017 people for texting and driving.
- During the 2016 distracted driving extra enforcement campaign, law enforcement cited 972 people for texting and driving.
- During the 2015 distracted driving extra enforcement campaign, law enforcement cited 909 people for texting and driving.
Distracted Driving Behaviors
Posting on Facebook, checking that box score or Googling information on a device while driving are all against the law under Minnesota’s “Use of Wireless Communications Device” statute, which is commonly referred to as the texting and driving law.
Distractions that could lead to a crash also include adjusting music, eating and drinking, or distracting passenger behavior.
Distracted Driving Consequences
- With Minnesota’s “No Texting” law, it’s illegal for drivers to read 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. Penalties for this violation can include:
- $50 plus court fees for a first offense.
- $275 plus court fees for a second and/or subsequent offense.
- If you injure or kill someone because of texting and driving, you can face a felony charge of criminal vehicular operation or homicide.
Speak Up and Join Minnesotans Driving Distracted-Free
- 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.