The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 7, 2014

Cart exercise makes clear the dangers of texting while driving

Officers to use road maintenance vehicles to catch offenders

MAPLETON — Kris Madsen wasn't too surprised when a survey of students at Maple River High School showed most of them admitted to reading texts, talking on their cellphones, eating or doing other unsafe things while driving.

Madsen, a social worker at the school, has caught herself being distracted behind the wheel.

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She was listening to the radio while driving to work one morning. A local broadcaster was talking about how she had received a phone call from someone who had just passed a woman on Highway 14. The woman was driving while putting on her makeup, the caller said.

"Guess what I was doing when I heard that," Madsen said. "I was putting on my lipstick."

Madsen, Maple River Principal Todd Griepentrog, Department of Transportation officials and several local law enforcement officers gathered outside the school Monday to teach students about the dangers of distracted driving. The students, driving golf carts, were asked to write a text saying what they had for breakfast, where they had it and when they ate.

"I was only able to text 'cereal' and 'home' before I got to the end," said Noah Lindsey, a junior who recently received his driving permit. "I wasn't sure where I was going and I couldn't see where I was going. It makes it a lot more dangerous on the road."

Law enforcement officers also used the event to announce a 10-day enforcement campaign that will start Friday and last through April 20. Officers will be riding in maintenance vehicles and watching for distracted drivers. When they see someone who is breaking the law by texting or doing something else dangerous, they will call another officer in a squad car so the driver can be stopped and cited.

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