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State Patrol Putting The Brakes On Distracted Drivers

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This week, the Minnesota State Patrol is trying to put the brakes on distracted driving.

More than 300 law enforcement agencies across the state are on the lookout for drivers who are texting. The public safety department said distractions like that killed more than 50 people on Minnesota roads last year.

Sending a text while driving may only take a second, but it can be deadly.

"At 55 miles an hour, [during] your typical text message, you will cover the length of a football field," Minneapolis police public information officer John Elder said.

Distracted driving contributes to one in four crashes. That can be anything from texting to even eating and drinking.

"You're looking at driving behavior, driving conduct, as well," Minneapolis police Sgt. Aaron Prescott said. "How does that distraction affect driving behavior?"

But police have seen distractions far odder than a text or a phone call.

"[Hopkins police] stopped somebody who was painting their nails," Prescott said. "That's one I haven't seen before."

A driver won't automatically be pulled over for things like eating or even doing your make-up at a stop light, but if it's causing a noticeable impact in your driving, it's a distraction. Extra enforcement runs through Saturday but law enforcement hopes drivers will learn their lesson.

"Officers will continue to work hard at enforcing this law throughout the summer and the coming year, but it's really to put it out in the forefront of their minds," Elder said.

The fine for distracted driving varies by county but can run anywhere from $125 to $145.

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