WORTHINGTON — A month since the new hands-free driving law took effect, the Worthington Police Department will be conducting a distracted driving saturation.
Beginning Monday and concluding Sunday, the WPD will have additional officers patrolling the streets of Worthington paying close attention to whether or not drivers are holding a cell phone.
“We’ll be focusing on the new hands-free law, just because it’s a new law and confusing to people,” said WPD Sgt. Josh McCuen.
The new law, which took effect Aug. 1, prohibits motorists from using a cell phone unless by voice commands, single-touch or in emergency situations.
The goal of the local saturation, McCuen said, is to bolster compliance.
“Nobody wants anyone to get hurt,” he said.
McCuen noted that since the new law took effect, compliance hasn’t been terrible. But, he said, it could always be better. The WPD reported making three citations since the new law took effect, a number that doesn't account for possible warnings.
The first offense is punishable by a $50 fine and court costs. Subsequent violations are subject to $275 and court costs.
The timing of the saturation was made with school resuming in mind. More motorists and children will be sharing the road, and the department wants everyone to be safe, McCuen said.
According to the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety, more than 60,000 crashes from 2014-2018 were distracted-driving related. Texting citations climbed annually in Minnesota from 2013 (2,177) to 2018 (9,545).