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Texting while driving citations jumped 30 percent in Minnesota last year

More than 9,500 tickets were issued in 2018.

A worrying rise in texting behind the wheel saw more than 9,500 drivers issued tickets in Minnesota last year.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says that 9,545 tickets were handed out to drivers for texting last year, compared to 7,357 in 2017.

That represents a 30 percent jump from the year before, and a massive 459 percent increase from 2012, when just 1,707 tickets were handed out.

Already this year, the DPS says two people have been killed in distracted-driving related crashes, one of which involved the use of a cellphone.

In 2018, there were 27 distraction-related fatal crashes, up from 25 a year before.

Just a reminder that it's illegal for drivers to read or send text messages, or access the internet, while they're driving a vehicle that's part of traffic – including at a stoplight or stop sign.

There have also been moves this week to make it similarly illegal to make or take a phone call while behind the wheel, with a bill to ban cellphone use unless it's voice-activated or hands-free being submitted in the Minnesota Legislature.

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A texting-while-driving citation lands you a $50 fine plus court fees for a first offense, and $275 plus court fees for a subsequent offense.

"We shouldn’t need laws to encourage drivers to pay attention to the road,” said Mike Hanson, director of the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety.

"The citation data is further evidence that much more needs to be done to change our driving culture. That’s why the Department of Public Safety supports laws that make our roads safer, including legislation for hands-free cell phone use behind the wheel."

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