Video: Driver fiddling with phone nearly rear-ends trooper

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Minnesota state troopers say a driver looking for music on his cellphone nearly rear-ended one of their squad cars at highway speed.

The Minnesota State Patrol says video (above) of an Easter Sunday incident shows that a driver veered dangerously close to a state trooper's squad car, which was parked at the side of Interstate 35 in Duluth. The trooper had been stopped to assist a motorist with a stalled vehicle near 40th Avenue West.

The video shows the trooper, seeing the fast-approaching vehicle, move his car a bit deeper into the shoulder, which helped avoid a crash.

“It was frightening to watch in my rearview mirror,” the unidentified trooper says in a post on the State Patrol's Facebook page. “I think the video speaks for itself how fortunate I was not to be struck."

The trooper chased down the driver, who told troopers he had been searching for tunes on his phone and did not notice the trooper's car until the last second, despite the squad's emergency lights. The driver was charged with careless driving, driving after suspension, possession of marijuana in motor vehicle, and paraphernalia, troopers say.

State safety officials this month have been reminding drivers that distracted driving can be deadly. A 10-day campaign to raise awareness about the dangers netted 550 citations.

More than 86,000 crashes were attributed to distracted driving during 2009-13 – 25 percent of all crashes in those five years, according to state statistics.

State officials also cite these eye-opening numbers: In 2013, inattention was the contributing factor in 17,598 crashes (23 percent of all crashes), 68 fatalities and 8,038 injuries.

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