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Distracted driving patrol is today, local law urges drivers to focus on driving

WILLMAR -- You're thoroughly enjoying that juicy burger after a long day (never mind that the ketchup just dripped on your shirt). Listening to the radio, thinking about what has to be done tomorrow. Then your cell phone rings. You set your drink down, lunge for the phone - and CRASH! Chaos erupts. Sliding around, upside down, soda pop and French fries flying everywhere. No, you didn't tip your chair over at the dinner table. You just crashed your vehicle because you weren't paying attention to your driving.

Across the state today, special attention will be paid by law enforcement agencies, including the Willmar Police and the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's office, to the signs that a person is driving while distracted. We've all seen it: a vehicle wandering between lanes, uneven speeds, missed traffic controls like "stop" signs, following too closely. Failure to drive with due care is a ticketable offense in Minnesota. Distracted driving is a contributing factor is a high percentage of vehicle crashes- proven in at least one in five.

It's time to remember: driving already is multi-tasking. Don't add unneeded tasks to the mix.

The cell phone has to wait. So does eating. The only thing a driver should be reading while moving is road signs. Texting, e-mailing, surfing the internet and other forms of digital electronic communications are prohibited for all drivers while in traffic.

We'll let media outlets know what interesting distracted driving encounters our officers and deputies have today in a later press release. If you don't want to be part of the list, concentrate on driving.

Take a stand today. While you drive, let the calls go to voice mail. Don't dial and drive. When you call a person on their cell phone, ask if they are driving and have them call back later if they are. Put down the coffee, pop, or nail clippers. Talk with each other about distracted driving and its dangers. Resolve to do whatever you can to reduce the toll that inattentive driving is taking on our communities.