Reporting Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Law enforcement agencies across Minnesota have a clear message for drivers on Thursday: put down the cell phones and pay attention to the road.
Patrol cars are always on the lookout for those distracted drivers. But this week, officers went under cover. They rode along in school buses to try and spot those drivers from a better vantage point.
Officer Joe Ramirez of Blaine Police Department rode on one of those buses.
“This is the epitome of bad weather in Minnesota,” Ramirez said. “It’s not going to stop a distracted driver by any means.”
The whole idea came after officers said they kept hearing from school bus drivers saying that from their vantage point, they constantly see distracted drivers in the act.
Maureen Johnson is an expert on the subject for the worst of reasons. She said her baby brother, 28, was killed in Stillwater by a 17-year-old distracted driver who crashed into him.
“Something like that happens and your whole world explodes and you realize how many people do what this teenager did,” Johnson said.
She tells his story because he can no longer speak. Also, when she’s driving and sees someone texting, she said it takes all she has to hold her tongue.
“I just wanna get out of the car and say ‘don’t you understand? Here’s a picture of my brother. He’s gone because of something stupid like this,’” Johnson said.
There were around 400 other law enforcement agencies across Minnesota increasing patrols for the one-day campaign.
When officers spotted distracted drivers Thursday, they called on troopers in the area, handed off tag numbers and told them to write those tickets. Officers are hoping to keep on using this new technique.