Weather Forecast


Distracted driving: extra enforcement on MN roads April 9-22

A truck driver was allegedly looking down at his cell phone for eight seconds before he slammed into a car, killing a father of three.

More than two football fields — that's how long investigators believed the driver traveled in those eight seconds.

Eight seconds — that's all it took to change the lives of a family who will no longer see their loved one, and a truck driver who potentially faces serious jail time for a choice to look away from the road.

This is just the latest distracted driving fatality in Minnesota.

Starting April 9, Becker County will take part in extra distracted driving enforcement, along with more than 300 law enforcement agencies across Minnesota. The distracted driving campaign runs through April 22 and is coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Office of Traffic Safety.

"Who would run through the halls of a school or a crowded mall blindfolded? Only those looking to get hurt, you might say," said Becker County Sheriff Todd Glander. "So why would you do the same behind the wheel of a car? That's essentially what people are doing when looking down at their phones. Enough is enough! Now is the time to change the culture, put down the phone, tune out the distractions and speak up if you see others on the road making dangerous decisions. Together we can save lives on Minnesota roads."

Distracted driving is dangerous driving

• Texting citations climbed nearly 23 percent from 2016 to 2017.

• Distracted driving contributes to one in five crashes in Minnesota.

• Distracted driving contributes to an average of 59 deaths and 223 serious injuries a year (2012 — 2016).

• During the 2017 distracted driving extra enforcement campaign, law enforcement cited 1,017 people for texting and driving.

• During the 2016 distracted driving extra enforcement campaign, law enforcement cited 972 people for texting and driving.

• During the 2015 distracted driving extra enforcement campaign, law enforcement cited 909 people for texting and driving.

Distracted driving behaviors

• Posting on Facebook, checking that 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 as 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.

Distracted driving consequences

• 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.

• $50 plus court fees for a first offense.

• $275 plus court fees for a second and/or subsequent offense.

• If you injure or kill someone because of texting and driving, you can face a felony charge of criminal vehicular operation or homicide.

Drive distracted-free

• 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.