By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — More states are making texting and driving illegal, but the number of people across the U.S. doing that has increased by 50 percent last year.

That’s according to a national study released by the federal government. That dramatic increase is also reflected in Minnesota figures.

The Minnesota State Patrol says, so far this year, there have been 945 citations issued statewide for texting while driving.

In all of last year, there were 518 issued.

The State Patrol said several factors are responsible for the increase. They said enforcement has been stepped up and more people are texting.

While texting when the car is moving may seem like an obvious violation, many citations are given when motorists are texting or accessing emails while stopped at an intersection.

“The way the law in written in Minnesota specifically prohibits texting while in traffic. So that would be at a stop sign, at a stop light, any time your vehicle is in a traffic lane,” said Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske.

The Minnesota law is written in a way that includes more than strictly texting. The law says motorists cannot “compose, read, or send an electronic message,” when the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic. That includes reading emails or surfing the web.

“Web surfing, email, any access of that type of information while driving would be illegal,” Roeske said.

Texting while driving is also on the rise because of new technology on smart phones that allow people to send voice texts. But audio texting is also against the law.

The texting law also technically includes consulting directions on your phone while your car is in traffic or at an intersection.

Roeske said citations for that are relatively rare. A texting ticket will cost you between $100 and $125.

Comments (6)
  1. Scrooge says:

    I say raise the fine…maybe 200,300 or more, make it sting!!!!!

  2. Stupidity runs high here in MN says:

    So let me see if I understand this….its illegal to send an audio text, but not illegal to dial a number and talk on your cell? Hmmm, MN has done it once again. Stupid

  3. Confused 'Sotan says:

    what is the difference between “consulting your GPS” for directions and consulting your phone for directions?

    Also, maybe the good Lt. can clarify the statute 169.475 Sub3(1) which says that (while illegal to compose, send or read an electronic message) the section does not apply if the device is used solely in a voice activated or other hands-free mode.

    So, if I am using Siri to read my texts and reply using a handsfree device I am ok??



  5. RaeRae says:

    There have been many a time when I am stuck behind a person stopped at a green light because they are too busy checking their phone. I usually give the 3-second wait before I honk but then I look like the jerk. Any unnecessary activity that takes your attention from the road should be worth a ticket. And texting is most definitely unnecessary. If it were truly an emergency, you’d be calling someone.

  6. goggles says:

    Good luck enforcing it.

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