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Law enforcement cite more than 5,000 drivers for distracted driving during April enforcement campaign

ST. PAUL — Law enforcement officers across Minnesota issued 5,380 citations for hands-free cell phone violations during a month-long distracted driving enforcement campaign in April. That’s nearly 2,000 more citations handed out than during last year’s campaign.

Results April 1-30

2024:

• 5,380 citations for hands-free cell phone violations.

• 278 Minnesota agencies participated.

2023:

• 3,427 citations for hands-free cell phone violations.

• 275 Minnesota agencies participated.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) coordinates the statewide campaign with funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It includes advertising in support of the Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety program.

“The number of citations issued is disturbing, unacceptable and extremely frustrating,” said Mike Hanson, OTS director. “Getting distracted behind the wheel for even a couple seconds can end with someone being seriously hurt or killed. What if that someone was your loved one? Put distractions away and make the roads safer for everyone.”

Examples of distracted driving stops from law enforcement

• The Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office worked with crossing guards in school zones and issued five cell phone use citations.

• A Pipestone County sheriff’s deputy stopped three drivers in a row for hands-free violations. The first driver posted on a social media community page about being stopped. Even though he wasn’t happy about being pulled over, it helped promote the extra enforcement.

• St. Paul police stopped two drivers twice in one day for distracted driving. Another driver was cited for a hands-free violation three days after receiving a citation for the same offense in the same area.

• The Anoka County Sheriff’s Office stopped a driver who admitted to texting his mom while driving. A deputy also stopped another driver for checking her bank account while behind the wheel.

Citations by agency

In the Twin Cities metro area, agencies with the most citations included:

• St. Paul Police Department: 951

• Minnesota State Patrol – west metro region: 270

• Minnesota State Patrol – east metro region: 180

• Ramsey County Sheriff's Office: 172

• Bloomington Police Department: 122

• Edina Police Department: 78

• Richfield Police Department: 60

In greater Minnesota, agencies with the most citations included:

• Minnesota State Patrol – Virginia region: 387

• Minnesota State Patrol – St. Cloud region: 168

• Minnesota State Patrol – Rochester region: 166

• Minnesota State Patrol – Duluth region: 134

• Minnesota State Patrol – Detroit Lakes region: 109

• Minnesota State Patrol – Mankato region: 81

• Mankato Department of Public Safety Police: 71

• Minnesota State Patrol – Brainerd region: 71

• New Ulm Police Department: 64

View the full list of participating agencies.

Distracted driving is dangerous driving

Preliminary figures for Minnesota show:

• Distracted driving contributed to one in 11 crashes from 2019 to 2023.

• Distracted driving contributed to an average of 29 deaths and 146 life-changing injuries a year from 2019 to 2023.

Hands-free cell phone use is the law

The hands-free cell phone use law went into effect Aug. 1, 2019. It means drivers can’t 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 against the law in Minnesota, even in hands-free mode.

Visit HandsFreeMN.org and DriveSmartMN.org for more information about the law.

About the Minnesota Department Public Safety

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 10 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.

About the Office of Traffic Safety

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. These efforts form a strong foundation for the statewide Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety program. OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program, child seats for needy families program and school bus stop arm camera project.

 

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