Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Real stories from troopers about distracted driving in Minnesota April 22, 2016

Photographed along Interstate 35 between Medford and Faribault, northbound lane.

Photographed along Interstate 35 between Medford and Faribault, northbound lanes.

THE MINNESOTA STATE PATROL, on its Twitter account, asks this question: Is a text more important than the life in your car or the one next to you?

As law enforcement agencies across the state crack down on distracted driving during April, it becomes undeniably clear that texting while driving is a major problem. We all knew that. Right? Yet we continue to engage in behavior that endangers us and others. Our need to constantly be connected is a tough habit to kick.

Said a 25-year-old woman stopped recently by a trooper along 35E in the metro: “It’s such a habit.” She claimed to be unaware that she was texting. Really?

This billboard sponsored by Federated Insurance of Owatonna stands along Steele County Road 45 that runs parallel to Interstate 35 just north of Owatonna.

This billboard sponsored by Federated Insurance stands along Steele County Road 45 north of Owatonna. CR45 runs parallel to Interstate 35. The photo of the young girl on the billboard personalizes the message.

But a semi truck driver along I-90 clearly knew he was texting. His phone was Velcroed to his steering wheel. When a trooper stopped him for weaving and crossing out of his lane, he admitted to texting his kids. Really?

West of Fosston, a driver was stopped for changing speeds with her head down. The young mother admitted to texting. Her infant was in the back seat. Really?

This message is posted just north of Faribault along the northbound lanes of Interstate 35.

This message is posted just north of Faribault along the northbound lanes of Interstate 35.

In Shakopee, a trooper stopped a 37-year-old man who was looking online for a karate facility address while driving. Really?

And how about this one: A 27-year-old man was cited in Duluth for reading texts with his right hand, drinking with his left and steering with his knees. Really?

Is a text more important than the life in your car or the one next to you?

Be safe on the roads this weekend, my friends.

FYI: Click here to read the Minnesota Patrol Twitter page. And click here to read #SpeakUpMN, what Minnesotans are saying about distracted driving.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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28 Responses to “Real stories from troopers about distracted driving in Minnesota”

  1. rachaelhanel Says:

    I feel so strongly about this problem. It baffles my mind that people feel compelled to be texting in the car. It can wait!

  2. Marneymae Says:

    *sigh*
    How fortunate your state is that there is a presence of law enforcement regarding this terrible habit people continue to engage in.
    Since I drive quite a bit for my work, I see SO many people on their phones, looking down or to the side, texting.
    I wish people would just put away their phones when they drive.
    Just focus & drive.
    Honor the precious cargo within & around their vehicles.

  3. I am sorry to say it is a normal habit down here and considered a second offense (i.e. caught for speeding then can cite you for not being hands free too). At least every day there is a fatal accident here. Just sad and tragic and so avoidable too! Thanks for the Reminder to Drive Safe and Not Distracted (i.e. phone, eating/drinking, reaching for something, etc.).

    Take Care – Happy Weekend – Enjoy 🙂

  4. Reminds me of the old saying, “You can’t fix stupid.”

  5. They just don’t understand how quickly things can happen at any speed!

    • That is so true. Things happen, snap, just like that.

      • There was a recent public safety item on TV that showed mostly young people in Japan at a movie theater and they were being shown a movie trailer which had someone driving down the road/highway.. Somehow they got everyone in the theaters phone to ring at the same time and as they all looked down at the phone, the person(s) in the car on the screen had a major life-threatening crash. It was incredibly poignant. I don’t know which car company sponsored it, but is should be shown everywhere.

      • Wow. That sounds like an effective and powerful way to make a point.

  6. treadlemusic Says:

    I’m totally fed up with this whole thing and wish that the moment the car was put in “Drive” all such cell devices would be rendered inoperable!!!!!! Just had the senior driving refresher course last eve and the recent stats are staggering——and NOT by teens alone (as your post makes abundantly clear!!!).

  7. Crazy. Why the need to be so connected all the time?

  8. Don Says:

    That seems fitting. Maybe a question I should have asked in this post is this: How would you persuade people not to text and drive? What would be an effective campaign/deterrent?

    CELL phone jammer! It disrupts the phone single without damaging the phone.

    I have previously told of my complete dislike of cell phones, blah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Don Says:

    cell phone jammers do exist but are not legal in the U.S. due to interfering with emergency services e.g. police, fire fighters doctors etc. I agree with having them to communicate with family and such but to be on them for hours at a time just surfing the web or texting drivel is an addiction, is it not?

  10. Littlesundog Says:

    I suppose because I rebel the need to constantly connect with a cell phone or social media, I have no tolerance for folks who (to me) are unable to handle the responsibility of today’s technology. I turn my phone off when I drive anywhere – even across town. Heck, most of the time I forget to take it along! 🙂

    • We all have our parameters when it comes to the importance of cell phones. Mine keeps me connected to my “kids,” one of whom lives in Minnesota, the other in eastern Wisconsin and the youngest in greater Boston. I truly am thankful for my cell phone. Back in my college days, my only connection to “back home” was the occasional handwritten letter. The single phone in the dorm was located four floors down from my room. My, how times have changed.

      • Littlesundog Says:

        Oh, if I were you I’d be happy about the cell and today’s technology in keeping connected. Hearing from the kids is really important! I am SO thankful for texting and email. But I’m quite lax about carrying my cell or giving it too much attention. For one, wildlife does not like it at all! Daisy deer senses when I have it in my back pocket and I have to wonder if that is why she runs off. Even the squirrels stay away when either FD or I are carrying one. I guess they put off energy or vibes! 🙂

      • Interesting. Animals are pretty sensitive.

        We were looking at new cell phones today, switching to a different company to get better coverage. I walked into the store and announced to the staffer, “We’re pretty cell phone illiterate.” After waiting FOREVER, we finally we’re helped. And I didn’t like the prices I heard, so…

  11. Jackie Says:

    I just want to say, Really people? Can you not wait until you at least stop the car to text. It’s scary enough on the roads without one more distraction.

  12. Beth Ann Says:

    I do love the ability to text but doing it while driving is so dangerous. So many of our cars now have the ability to “read” a text to you as it comes in or to send texts with verbal commands but I still do not do that because it takes me so long to figure out how to do it hence I am distracted doing the thing that is supposed to be safer. 🙂


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