Created: 04/10/2014 7:15 PM KAALtv.com
By: Steph Crock
(ABC 6 News) -- Distracted driving accounts for roughly 25 percent of fatal crashes in the state. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety wants to put that to an end. Beginning tomorrow, law enforcement agencies will be cracking down on not just texting and driving, but anything that takes your eyes off the road.
"Law enforcement agencies will be partnering with the respective traffic engineers, MnDOT, and county public works to initiate enforcement efforts that focus on drivers who are texting,” said Lt. Christina Bogojevic with the Minnesota State Patrol.
You've probably heard it before, that cops have their eye out for texters, but if a slap on the wrist or a citation doesn’t get you to quit, maybe this will... "She never got to turn 18. She never got to graduate from high school," said father Matt Logan. His daughter DeeJ was killed in a crash on the first day of her senior year. "I'm a father who lost his daughter specifically to distracted driving," said Logan. DeeJ had been texting when she rear-ended a school bus. "Pierce lost his sister simply because of a four second distraction because she was composing a text," said Logan.
That's what brought the Logan's to the “Toward Zero Deaths” press conference Thursday. "It affected our family in such a profound way... cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings..." said Logan choking up. He's rallying behind the effort to put a stop to, not just texting and driving, but all distractions that take your eyes off of the road.
"That's why you need to hang up the phone, stop fiddling with the radio, put down the burger, and direct your full attention to the road," said Sgt. Vince Scheckel with the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office.
So far, initiatives like the Toward Zero Deaths campaign seem to be helping. In 2003, there were 655 deaths in the state, now, it's down to the upper 300's. Still, 25 percent of those crashes are from distracted driving, but that can continue to go down if people listen to this important message. "We're here to plead to make the right choice. Before you get in the car, put the cellphone away," said Logan.
On average, distracted driving accounts for approximately 60 fatalities and 8,000 injuries each year. The extra sting will continue through April 20th.