MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Part of a statewide campaign involving nearly 400 Minnesota law enforcement officers, law enforcement are making an extra effort to find distracted drivers Thursday.
Distracted drivers include people who text and search the web on their phone or computers while driving. The state law really comes down to this. Talking on your cell phone is legal, but accessing the internet in any way is not. It’s the law whether your car is moving or at a stoplight. It’s also illegal for drivers under 18 to use a cell phone at any time.
Trooper Nick Folger has never actually seen a distracted driver crash, but he has come upon wrecks minutes after patrolling.
“Driver’s seats have now become lazy boy lounge chairs where it’s as comfortable as can be. You have all the conveniences of your living room, and people forget they’re supposed to be focused on driving,” said Folger.
Thursday, he went looking for distracted drivers on Twin Cities highways.
“I’ll look at their mirror as they come up, just see what they’re doing,” he said while driving down the road.
Distracted driving contributes to a quarter of all Minnesota vehicle crashes: 200 people died and 26,000 were hurt the last three years.
One of those killed was Grayson Jett. He was riding with his dad two years ago, when their car was rear-ended in Columbia Heights. Jessica Lyn Howe told police at the scene that she was reaching for her cell-phone.
“You’re responsible for what happens with your car,” said Folger, who remarked that he wants people to think when they’re behind the wheel. He said that he doesn’t actually want to give tickets.
In fact, he didn’t even pull anyone over on Thursday for driving distracted. He thinks the safety message might be starting to get out.
“I want to change unsafe driving behavior,” he said.
Folger knows that there’s more work to be done to reach all Minnesota drivers.