By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The widow of a Wayzata police officer killed on the job is speaking out to prevent a decision that changed her life forever.

Last September, a distracted driver hit and killed Officer Bill Mathews while he was picking up debris on Highway 12. WCCO’s Reg Chapman shows us how his widow is now urging people to make driving their priority when getting behind the wheel.

Shawn Mathews spoke to a room of 30 officers from 15 different agencies who are about to hit the road to conduct extra distracted driving enforcement.

“Today each of you have the opportunity to raise the awareness of distracted driving. Hopefully you can stop someone from making the same choice that has profoundly impacted my life,” Shawn Mathews said.

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Officers call this detail their education seminars, 1-on-1 with people on the road and they’ll pass out information cards to help people understand the dangers of distracted driving.

“It’s an information card about who Bill was, what he meant to people and the distractions that were involved in that tragedy,” Sgt. Michael Glassberg said.

“Distracted driving is quickly becoming one of the leading factors in crashes I know that we’re experiencing on Highway 12 in our corridor area,” Sgt. Rick Denneson said.

Denneson worked with Officer Bill Mathews on a traffic stop one week before his tragic death. Although they work for different departments, they were partners on the Minnesota Highway 12 Safety Coalition.

Officers are focusing on stopping people from texting at stop lights.

“A lot of times we like to tell people you just can’t emotionally afford what could happen if you are texting and driving and you end up in a crash,” Denneson said.

That’s what Sgt. Denneson told a woman he pulled over near the Ridgedale Mall.

The text can wait, and waiting can save a life. A message officers are giving motorists up and down Highway 12.

“If we all work together we can start a ripple a ripple that will affect lives, a ripple that will change behaviors and a ripple that will give some meaning to this senseless loss that Wyatt and I live with every day,” Shawn Mathews said.

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