Distracted driving: Extra enforcement on Brainerd area roads starting Tuesday
Reaching down for an item that fell on the floor, turning around to settle the children down and picking up a cellphone for an incoming call--all seem harmless until a driver with their eyes off the road leads to a crash.
Reaching down for an item that fell on the floor, turning around to settle the children down and picking up a cellphone for an incoming call-all seem harmless until a driver with their eyes off the road leads to a crash.
Too many people are dying on Minnesota roads because drivers are not 100 percent committed to keeping their eyes on the road, Brainerd Police Patrolman Tony Runde, who is the Toward Zero Deaths grant coordinator, stated in a news release. In 2015, distracted driving contributed to 7,666 injuries and 74 deaths in the state.
For the first time, law enforcement across the state is extending the extra enforcement period to two weeks to conduct overtime patrols for distracted driving. Starting Tuesday, Brainerd lakes area law enforcement officers will take part in the extra enforcement along with more than 300 law enforcement agencies across Minnesota.
The distracted driving campaign runs through April 23 and is coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.
Too many people are not making driving the No. 1 priority behind the wheel. More than 86,000 crashes were distracted driving-related from 2011-2015, contributing to one in four crashes in Minnesota.
Distracted driving contributes to an average of 65 deaths and 215 life-changing injuries a year, when looking at 2011-2015 statistics.
During the 2015 distracted driving extra enforcement campaign, law enforcement cited 909 drivers for texting and driving, an 80 percent increase over the previous year.
Posting on Facebook, checking a box score or Googling information on a device while driving are all against the law under Minnesota's "Use of Wireless Communications Device" statute, which is commonly referred to the texting and driving law.
Distractions that could lead to a crash also include fiddling with controls for music, eating and drinking, children fighting or an adult passenger's behavior.
With Minnesota's "No Texting" law, it's illegal for drivers to read, send texts and emails, and access the web while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic. That includes sitting at a stoplight or stop sign.
Fines if cited for distracted driving:
• $50 plus court fees for a first offense.
• $275 plus court fees for a second and/or subsequent offense.
If a driver injures or kills someone because of texting and driving, they can face a felony charge of criminal vehicular operation or homicide.
Join Minnesotans Driving Distracted-Free campaign:
• Cell phones-Put the phone down, turn it off or place it out of reach.
• Music and other controls-Pre-program radio stations and arrange music in an easy-to- access spot.
• Adjust mirrors and ventilation before traveling.
• Navigation-Map out the destination and enter the GPS route in advance.
• Eating and drinking-Avoid messy foods and secure drinks.
• Children-Teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle and model proper driving behavior.
• Passengers-Speak up to stop drivers from distracted driving behavior and offer to help with anything that takes the driver's attention off the road.
Distracted driving education is a component of Minnesota's core traffic safety effort, TZD. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes-education, enforcement, engineering and emergency medical and trauma response.