VIDEO: Minnesota Fights Distracted Driving from a Higher Vantage Point

Nearly 400 Minnesota law enforcement agencies have added extra patrols for a distracted-driving crackdown that runs April 11-20. Some of those officers are riding in school buses so they have a better vantage point to catch texting drivers in the act.

To view a video report on the unusual enforcement tactic, click on the link or photo above.

The crackdown in Minnesota coincides with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and a new federal advertising campaign

In Minnesota, it’s illegal for drivers to read, compose or send texts and e-mails. Drivers are also prohibited from accessing the Web on a wireless device while the vehicle is in motion or stopped in traffic. Additionally, drivers under age 18 are prohibited from talking on a cell phone.

Minnesota’s “no texting” law was enacted in August 2008, and citations have increased each year:

  • 2009 – 388
  • 2010 – 847
  • 2011 – 1,270
  • 2012 – 1,718
  • 2013 – 2,189

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Office of Traffic Safety (DPS/OTS):

  • There have been more than 86,000 crashes attributed to distracted driving during 2009-13, translating to 25 percent of all crashes in those five years. 
  • On average, distracted driving accounts for approximately 60 fatalities and 8,000 injuries annually. 
  • In 2013, inattention was the contributing factor in 17,598 crashes (23 percent of all crashes), 68 fatalities and 8,038 injuries.

“It’s a myth to think we can multitask behind the wheel,” said Donna Berger, DPS Office of Traffic Safety director. “The reality is distractions take our attention away from the important task of driving. It is up to every driver to eliminate distractions and share the road safely and responsibly.”