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Choose to pay attention: distraction-free driving is safe driving

Extra distracted driving enforcement is on Minnesota roads April 1-30

Law enforcement agencies and traffic safety partners are dedicating extra time in April to educate motorists and enforce the hands-free cell phone law while stopping other distracting behaviors.

Distracted driving contributed to nearly 30,000 crashes in Minnesota from 2019-2023 (preliminary figures).

The distracted driving extra enforcement and awareness campaign runs April 1-30 and focuses on promoting safety and preventing tragedy.

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 messaging that supports the Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety program.

“Simply put, a 2-ton vehicle with a distracted driver behind the wheel can steal a life,” said OTS Director Mike Hanson.

“Don’t fool yourself. You’re distracted any time you shift your attention from driving. It can be challenging, but for everyone’s safety, focus on driving.”

Distracted driving is dangerous driving: Preliminary figures for Minnesota show distracted driving contributed to one in 11 crashes and an average of 29 deaths and 146 life-changing injuries a year from 2019 through 2023.

Hands-free cell phone use is the law: The hands-free cell phone use law 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.

Distracted driving consequences: The law allows a driver to use a cell phone to make calls, text, listen to music or podcasts and get directions, but only by voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone. Remember, hands-free is not necessarily distraction-free.

The penalty is $100 or more including court fees for a first offense and $300 or more for a second and/or subsequent offense.

If you injure or kill someone while violating the hands-free law, you can face a felony charge of criminal vehicular operation or homicide.

Drive smart and join Minnesotans driving distraction-free

•Park the phone by putting it down, activating the “Do Not Disturb” feature, silencing notifications, turning it off, placing it out of reach or going hands-free.

•Pre-program radio stations and arrange music in an easy-to-access spot. Adjust mirrors and ventilation before traveling.

• Map out the destination and enter the GPS route in advance.

•Secure drinks and avoid messy foods while driving.

•Teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle and model proper driving behavior.

•Speak up to stop drivers from distracted driving behavior and offer to help with anything that takes the driver’s attention off the road.

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