Texting and driving

More than 300 Minnesota police departments are participating in an extra-enforcement campaign to keep roads safe from distracted drivers. The campaign runs through April 30.

So many distractions can make your mind wander these days, but when you are behind the wheel, it can be deadly.

To increase awareness and change dangerous behaviors, law enforcement agencies across Minnesota are participating in a month-long extra distracted driving enforcement campaign running through April 30.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety coordinates the campaign with funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The campaign includes advertising across Minnesota in support of the statewide Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety initiative.

Lost in thought, phones, changing the music, dropping something on the floor or disciplining a child in the back seat are all real distractions, and they can lead to life-changing events.

“Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution when it comes to distracted driving,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “Start by setting a good example for your kids or anyone in the vehicle by parking the phone. And the next time you start to do something else behind the wheel that isn’t driving, remember how you feel about other motorists doing the same thing. Don’t let distracted driving wreck you. Drive smart by always paying attention behind the wheel.”

Distracted driving contributes to an average of 31 deaths and 192 life-changing injuries a year (2016-20).

Drive smart means parking the phone, setting the GPS and music before driving, keeping your eyes on the road during a conversation, not reaching down for an object on the floor, not eating messy food that could spill and take your attention off the road, and the list goes on. Drive smart simply means putting all the distractions away and focusing on the road.

Distracted driving is dangerous driving

• More than 39,000 crashes were distracted driving-related from 2016-20, contributing to one in nine crashes in Minnesota.

• In 2020, distracted driving contributed to 2,612 injuries and 29 deaths.

• Distracted driving contributes to 11 percent of crashes in Minnesota.

Hands-free cell phone use became law on Aug. 1, 2019 in Minnesota. That means drivers can no longer hold their phone in their hand. Accessing or posting on social media, streaming videos, checking that box score or Googling information on a device while driving are all still against the law in Minnesota, even in hands-free mode.

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