Choose to Pay Attention: Distraction-free Driving is Safe Driving

Published On: March 28th, 20243.3 min readCategories: Local News, News

Extra distracted driving enforcement is on Minnesota roads April 1-30

ST. PAUL — Scrolling through social media on your cell phone. Unwrapping that delicious cheeseburger. Checking that work email that someone just sent. Those are all fine — from the comfort of your couch. Behind the wheel? They could be deadly. That’s why law enforcement agencies and traffic safety partners are dedicating extra time in April to educate motorists, enforce the hands-free cell phone law and help stop other distracting behaviors.

Distracted driving contributed to nearly 30,000 crashes in Minnesota from 2019-2023 (preliminary figures). The distracted driving extra enforcement and awareness campaign runs April 1-30 and focuses on promoting safety and preventing tragedy. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) coordinates the statewide campaign with funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It includes advertising in support of the Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety program.

“Simply put, a two-ton vehicle with a distracted driver behind the wheel can steal a life,” said OTS Director Mike Hanson. “Don’t fool yourself. You’re distracted anytime you shift your attention from driving. It can be challenging, but for everyone’s safety, focus on driving.”

Distracted driving is dangerous driving

Preliminary figures for Minnesota show:

  • Distracted driving contributed to one in 11 crashes from 2019-2023.
  • Distracted driving contributed to an average of 29 deaths and 146 life-changing injuries a year from 2019-2023.

Distracted Driving














Serious Injuries







Hands-free cell phone use is the law

The hands-free cell phone use law means drivers can’t hold their phone in their hand. Accessing or posting on social media, streaming videos, checking that box score or Googling information on a device while driving are against the law in Minnesota, even in hands-free mode.

Distracted driving consequences

  • Hands-free cell phone law: The law allows a driver to use their cell phone to make calls, text, listen to music or podcasts and get directions, but only by voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone. Remember, hands-free is not necessarily distraction-free.
    • $100 or more including court fees for a first offense.
    • $300 or more including court fees for a second and/or subsequent offense.
  • If you injure or kill someone while violating the hands-free law, you can face a felony charge of criminal vehicular operation or homicide.

Drive smart and join Minnesotans driving distraction-free

  • Cell phones — Park the phone by putting it down, activating the “Do Not Disturb” feature, silencing notifications, turning it off, placing it out of reach or going hands-free.
  • Music and other controls — Pre-program radio stations and arrange music in an easy-to-access spot. Adjust mirrors and ventilation before traveling.
  • Navigation — Map out the destination and enter the GPS route in advance.
  • Eating and drinking — Avoid messy foods and secure drinks.
  • Children — Teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle and model proper driving behavior.
  • Passengers — Speak up to stop drivers from distracted driving behavior and offer to help with anything that takes the driver’s attention off the road.

Visit and for more information.

About the Minnesota Department Public Safety

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 10 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.

About the Office of Traffic Safety

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. These efforts form a strong foundation for the statewide Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety program. OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program, child seats for needy families program and school bus stop arm camera project.

Share This Story!