More than 5,000 cited for distracted driving in April in Minnesota

12 May 2024

ST. PAUL — Law enforcement officers in Minnesota issued more than 5,300 citations for hands-free cellphone violations during a distracted driving enforcement campaign.

According to a news release from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety, 278 agencies issued 5,380 citations from April 1 to April 30.

The enforcement campaign was coordinated with funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in support of the Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety program.

Law enforcement agencies that participated in the campaign included the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office with 23 citations and the Willmar Police Department with 15 citations. According to the release, state troopers in the St. Cloud region issued 168 citations during the campaign.

Office of Traffic Safety Director Mike Hanson said in a written statement, “the number of citations issued is disturbing, unacceptable and extremely frustrating. Getting distracted behind the wheel for even a couple seconds can end with someone being seriously hurt or killed. … Put the distractions away and make the roads safer for everyone.”

According to the Department of Public Safety, preliminary data for Minnesota showed that distracted driving contributed to one in 11 crashes from 2019 to 2023. Data also showed distracted driving contributed to an average of 29 deaths and 146 life-changing injuries a year.

The hands-free cellphone use law went into effect in August of 2019. The law banned drivers from navigating traffic while holding a phone in their hand.

Drivers can still use hands-free modes on their phones to make calls, texts, listen to music or podcasts, and receive directions, but only by voice command. The Department of Public Safety reminds drivers that hands-free does not necessarily mean distraction-free and still recommends turning phones off and placing them out of sight while driving.


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