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Distracted driving patrols are Thursday in Minn.

ST. PAUL -- State traffic safety officials and law enforcement agencies have launched a distracted driving education campaign that is anchored by increased enforcement on Thursday.

The effort, coordinated by the Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety, will include ramped-up patrols from nearly 400 city and county agencies, partnering with the Minnesota State Patrol.

Driver distraction is a contributing factor in one-quarter of all Minnesota vehicle crashes annually -- and has resulted in 208 deaths and nearly 26,000 injuries in the last three years, according to a news release from the Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.

In Minnesota, it is illegal for drivers to read, compose or send texts/emails, and access the web on a wireless device while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic -- even at a stoplight/stop sign, or stuck in traffic. It is also illegal for drivers under age 18 to use a cell phone at any time.

"While driving may seem like a routine activity for many of us, the road environment changes constantly and demands focus at all times," said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director, in the news release. "We can't use our daily commutes to conduct other business while behind the wheel."