Rochester, MN  (KROC AM News) - Extra law enforcement personnel will be on the lookout for distracted drivers on Minnesota roads over the next few weeks.

The annual crackdown began Monday and will run through April 22nd.

Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson took part in a kickoff event at the Government Center Monday morning. He told news reporters there is a need to change the mindset of motorists who feel social planning is more important than safety on the road while driving.

According to the Faribault Daily News 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). When a crash occurs in Minnesota, the driver behavior that law enforcement agencies cite most often as a contributing factor is inattention or distraction.

In the report the paper said Texting citations climbed nearly 23 percent from 2016 to 2017. Minnesota’s “No Texting” law makes it 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. The first offense results in a $50 fine plus any court fees, and the second and subsequent offenses result in $275 fines plus court fees.

In 2017 the distracted driving extra enforcement campaign, cited 1,017 people for texting and driving, up from 972 in 2016 and 909 in 2015. The 2017 campaign was two weeks long, compared to one week in previous years. This year again is two weeks.

 

Here's a video of local high school students talking about distracted driving.

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