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Minn. law enforcement ramps up distracted driving enforcement

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State and local law enforcement from nearly 400 city and county agencies statewide are cracking down on inattentive driving, especially texting and driving, the Pioneer Press reports.

In the metro, WCCO says Minneapolis police is working in conjunction with Golden Valley, Crystal, New Hope, Robbinsdale, Hopkins and University of Minnesota police departments to carry out the increased enforcement.

The Minnesota State Patrol will conduct similar enforcement Thursday in southern Minnesota, the Owatonna People's Press says.

Distracted driving accounts for about 20 percent of crashes annually, WCCO says. Twenty-five deaths and more than 4,500 injuries have been attributed to distracted teen drivers in the last three years.

"Teens make up a small number of drivers on the road but a high number of the crashes," Nichole Morris, a research associate at the University of Minnesota, told the Pioneer Press.

The university is conducting a year-long study involving 300 teenagers that uses tracking technology to monitor newly-licensed drivers. State public safety officials say the greatest crash risk for teens occurs during the first months of independent driving.

In Minnesota, it is illegal for drivers to read, compose or send texts/emails, and access the Web on a wireless device while a vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic, such as at a stoplight or stuck in traffic. It is also illegal for drivers under age 18 to use a cell phone at any time.

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