MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The number of drivers distracted by their cell phones on Minnesota roads continues to rise, according to new numbers from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

A report released Friday shows there were 7,357 citations for texting while driving statewide in 2017. That’s up 23 percent from 2016. In 2012 – the first year DPS released numbers for – only 1,707 texting citations were issued.

DPS said distracted driving contributes to one in four crashes in Minnesota, while causing an average of 59 deaths and 223 serious injuries a year.

While speeding citations were down from the year before, the 211,603 speeding citations issued in 2017 is actually the third-highest number in the last six years. In 2012, 216,664 citations for speeding were issued — the most in the years DPS covered. In 2014, only 182,279 were issued.

Seat belt use has increased dramatically in the past five years. In 2012, drivers were given 68,034 citations for not using a seat belt. In 2017, 32,071 drivers got the same citation – less than half of the 2012 number.

DPS did not give exact numbers for impaired driving, but said Minnesota has averaged 25,000 DWIs between 2013 and 2017. Between 2012 and 2016, 432 people died in drunken driving incidents, with 73 killed in 2016 alone.

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