Extra enforcement to crack down on distracted driving resulted in 909 drivers being cited statewide for texting and driving between April 13 to 18. More than 300 law enforcement agencies across Minnesota participated in the campaign conducted by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
"A motorist accelerates from a stop light with a cigarette in one hand, a phone in the other and no hands on the wheel," the DPS said in a statement. "Drivers are looking down at their phones for several seconds to send or read a text message. Law enforcement officers encountered these types of distractions during the extra distracted driving enforcement campaign— distractions that risk the lives of motorists across Minnesota."
Motorists can be ticketed for reasons beyond texting when driving, when distractions cause unsafe driving behavior.
Other distractions that led to citations during the campaign included:
A 66-year-old male weaving into oncoming traffic while reading the paper
A 22-year-old speeding while putting on make-up
A 38-year-old male swerving and steering with his knees while doing math on a piece of paper
A woman who rolled through a stop sign while arguing with her boyfriend
"From texting and driving citations to other distractions, the distracted driving campaign reveals an alarming number of people who are putting themselves and others in harm's way," said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director.
Texting-While-Driving Citations on the rise
• 2010 – 847
• 2011 – 1,270
• 2012 – 1,718
• 2013 – 2,189
• 2014 – 3,200
Minnesota's "No Texting" Law
In Minnesota, it is illegal for drivers to read, compose or send texts and emails, as well as access the web while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic. This includes sitting at a stoplight 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.