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Distracted driving enforcement yields 71 citations

  • Blog Post by: Tim Harlow
  • April 26, 2013 - 1:36 PM

A 30-year-old Coon Rapids woman was so busy texting that she missed a green light. Another driver who was eating and using his Global Positioning System (GPS) ran a red light. One motorist was spotted flossing his teeth while looking at a computer on his lap.

All three were stopped by law enforcement and given tickets.

Law enforcement from throughout the state wrote 71 tickets and handed out 39 warnings to motorists for texting and engaging in other behaviors during last week's one-day crackdown to bring attention to the dangers distracted driving.

Police saw a ride range of behaviors exhibited by drivers during the statewide enforcement on April 18. Motorists were cited for reading e-mail, accessing the internet and reading the newspaper.

A 24-year-old woman was ticketed for monitoring her Facebook newsfeed while driving on a north metro freeway. Mounds View police caught a man texting with one hand and holding a road map in the other. One driver from Colorado who might have been a little homesick was busted for reading an e-mail from his mother.

In total, law enforcement issued 694 citations and issued 1,633 warnings on April 18. Not all were for distracted driving offenses. The stops included tickets for speeding, not wearing seat belts, failing to move over for a police car involved with a case, equipment violations and driving with invalid licenses.

Last week's enforcement coincided with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month sponsored by the National Safety Council, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In Minnesota, it is illegal for drivers to read, compose and send text messages and e-mails, access the internet using a wireless device while a vehicle is in motion or part of traffic. This includes when stopped at a red light, the Minnesota Driver's Manual says.

In addition, cell phone use is totally banned for school bus drivers and for teen drivers during their permit and provisional license stages.

A survey conducted by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Office of Traffic Safety found that 40 percent of respondents said they compose texts or e-mails while driving and more than half read texts and emails

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