The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 8, 2013

Ask a Trooper: Are distracted driving laws being enforced?

By Jacalyn Sticha
Minnesota State Patrol

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We are enforcing our Distraction Driving Laws. In 2011 the MN State Patrol wrote 2,587 citations (3352 warnings) for Inattentive Driving and 431 for Texting While Driving (430 warnings), but not without difficulty.

Distracted driving from texting, cell phone use, eating or any of the many other distractions are not easily spotted. It can be difficult to know with a fair amount of certainty of an event happening inside the vehicle: unlike

speed, following too close, no signaling etc., all of which are apparent.

Often other driving violations lead us to a distracted driver. The driver may then get a citation for one of the distracted driving laws and/or the traffic violation that caught our attention in the first place. Which is

dependent on what the trooper finds from  investigating and if there is an admission by the violator. With severe crashes, we may check phone records as part of the investigation.

One piece of the texting law not readily known is that texting is prohibited while in traffic in anyway. MSS169.475.2 Prohibition on use. No person may operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device to compose, read, or send an electronic message, when the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic.

This means when stopped at a signal, sign or at a standstill waiting for a train or crash to clear, it is illegal to text.  If you need to text - you need to pull off the roadway and out of traffic.

Inattentive and distracted driving is given credit for one third of all fatalities, injuries as well.

Driving is a full time job and each of us need to take the responsibility.

Please send any traffic safety question to: jacalyn.sticha@state.mn.us . Not all question will be published but they will be answered via email.

Questions may be edited.