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Police will be focusing on distracted driving

Law enforcement officers across Minnesota will be on extra duty today through April 20 in an effort to reduce distracted driving, the Minnesota State Patrol announced Thursday.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says driver distraction is a leading crash factor in Minnesota, accounting for about 25 percent of all crashes annually. In 2012, distracted driver-related crashes resulted in 51 deaths and 8,304 injuries.

In Minnesota, it is illegal for drivers to read, compose or send text messages or emails, or access the Internet on a wireless device while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic, such as at a stoplight or stuck in traffic. It also is illegal for drivers younger than 18 to use a cell phone at any time.

Citations issued under Minnesota’s no-texting law, which was enacted in August 2008, have increased from 388 in 2009 to 2,189 in 2013.

Authorities said driver distractions also can include reaching for items, fiddling with radio/music/vehicle controls, eating or drinking, dealing with rowdy passengers, grooming and more.

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