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Hennepin County to crack down on teens texting and driving

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Authorities with Hennepin County say law enforcement will begin cracking down on teens texting and driving as students return to school this week, WCCO-TV reports.

Texting and driving is illegal in Minnesota even when a driver is stopped in traffic or at a traffic light.

To enforce the laws locally, Lt. Jeff Schlumpberger of the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office tells the station that extra patrols will be out on the roads the next couple of weeks.

Schlumpberger says officers will pull over any driver who appears to be distracted looking at their phone.

The blog Texting and Driving Safety says sending or reading a text message distracts a person for an average of 5 seconds. If they're driving at 55 mph, it’s like being distracted while driving the length of a football field.

In addition, state law prohibits people under 18 from using cell phones in any capacity while driving.

According to Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety, distracted or inattentive driving is a factor in one of four crashes, resulting in at least 70 deaths and 350 serious injuries.

Authorities believe the numbers of distracted or inattentive drivers is "vastly under-reported" due to the difficulties of law enforcement authorities to determine if distraction is a factor in crashes.

See WCCO's report on the texting and driving crackdown below.

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