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news Willmar, 56201

Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

This is the records summary for Aug. 3.

State campaign aims to reduce distracted driving

ST. PAUL -- Law enforcement agencies this week will be enforcing the state law against distracted driving. Agencies will increase patrols on Thursday during Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proclaimed "Distraction Free Driving Day."

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The campaign by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety coincides with results from a AAA/Seventeen survey that shows nearly nine in 10 teenage drivers have engaged in a distracted driving behavior, such as texting or talking on a cell phone -- although most of them know their actions increase their risk of crashing.

Driver distraction accounts for at least 25 percent of all crashes annually, resulting in at least 70 deaths and 350 injuries. Those numbers are vastly underreported due to officers' challenges to determine "distraction" as a contributing crash factor.

The campaign addresses all distractions beyond cell phone use and texting, according to Cheri Marti, director of the Office of Traffic Safety.

"Inattentive driving includes a range of distractions, from daydreaming to reaching for items to changing music," says Marti. "Our intent is to educate motorists that when you're behind the wheel, your focus needs to be on the road."

In 2008, reading or composing texts and e-mails, and having access to the Web on a wireless device while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic, became illegal. Also, drivers under age 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone at any time.

The Department of Public Safety says distractions of any kind cause drivers to react more slowly to traffic conditions. A University of Utah study reports that using a cell phone while driving, whether hands-free or hand-held, delays a driver's reactions as much as having an alcohol-concentration level of 0.08 percent.

Also, drivers who take their eyes off the road for up to 4.6 out of every 6 seconds when texting travel the distance equivalent to the length of a football field at 55 mph.

Criminal damage

WILLMAR -- The word "Chicanos'' was spray painted on a vinyl fence at the MinnWest Technology Campus, according to a report Monday to Willmar Police. The damage was estimated at $500 to $1,000.

Accidents

WILLMAR -- A bicyclist was injured in an early Monday accident involving a motor vehicle at the intersection of 45th Avenue and Highway 23 Southwest. The injured party was identified on an initial complaint report as Alan John Arends, 28, of Willmar. The report said the accident was investigated by the Minnesota State Patrol. No other information was available at press time.

WILLMAR -- Two persons were injured in a two-vehicle crash at 2:09 p.m. Sunday at the intersection of Lakeland Drive and Willmar Avenue Southeast. They were Ahmed A. Ahmed, 24, the driver of a 1995 Suzuki SUV, and Annabelle Krupke, 82, of Paynesville, who was driving a 2007 Mazda.

Willmar Police said both drivers were transported by Willmar Ambulance to Rice Memorial Hospital where they were treated and released. Both vehicles received extensive damage.

Vehicle recovered

RAYMOND -- The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office recovered a blue Pontiac Gran Prix Monday morning that was reported stolen from Leroy's Auto in Raymond. A deputy stopped the car at 2:52 a.m. at the intersection of Highway 23 and Fourth Street in Raymond. A 16-year-old male was arrested and charged in connection with the theft.

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