Distracted Driving Blamed for 59 MN Deaths a Year
Distracted driving contributes to an average of 59 deaths a year in Minnesota. It’s why law enforcement officers say people need to learn to put their phones down.
Over the next couple weeks, officers will be working overtime thanks to a federal grant to ensure drivers get the message.
“This is a common thing,” said Greg LaVallee, whose son was killed by a distracted driver in 2013. “People are literally just driving off the road and hitting things. Just about every story when we talk to other parents who have lost someone, or other people who have lost someone, it’s the same story. People are so distracted they’re not even seeing things.”
LaVallee shared his story with students at Monticello High School, as part of an event Thursday organized by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
This month, 300 law enforcement agencies across the state will have officers working overtime to specifically target distracted driving.
“The officers that will be working this overtime shift will be working on the freeways, on highways, on city streets, at stoplights, different areas people feel like it’s safe to be distracted,” said Lt. Tiffani Nielson of the Minnesota State Patrol. “And they’ll be watching for behavior in the vehicle. If they have a cell phone in their hand, if it appears they’re sending a message and not making a phone call, they’re gonna make a stop, ask for consent to look at the phone or search the phone, and they could issue a citation to that driver.”
The Monticello students also took part in a demonstration that showed how distracted driving is similar to driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
If you are stopped for distracted driving, the first offense is a $50 fine, the second offense is a $275 fine.