ST. PAUL - Minnesota traffic safety officials and law enforcement agencies are launching a distracted driving education campaign, including increased enforcement, this week.
The effort, coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety, will include patrols from nearly 400 city and county agencies partnering with the State Patrol.
The campaign also encourages high school students to push anti-distracted driving messages through social media channels and at schools.
Driver distraction is a contributing factor in one-quarter of all Minnesota vehicle crashes annually -- and resulting in 208 deaths and nearly 26,000 injuries in the last three years, according to a DPS news release.
In Minnesota, it is illegal for drivers to read, compose or send texts/emails, and access the Web on a wireless device while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic -- even at a stoplight/stop sign, or stuck in traffic. It is also illegal for drivers under age 18 to use a cell phone at any time.
DPS said other problematic driver distractions include reaching for items, fiddling with radio/music/vehicle controls, eating/drinking, dealing with rowdy passengers and grooming.