SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Saint Paul Police have launched a new crackdown on distracted driving just as hundreds of thousand of fairgoers will be driving through their city in the coming days.
Police say they are taking a zero tolerance approach to distracted driving throughout the state fair and into the start of the school year. That means they won't hesitate to write you a ticket if you are caught driving distracted or inattentive.
"It's really serious business, especially when you're putting others and yourself at risk, so we're gonna have no tolerance for that," said Steve Linders, public information officer for the Saint Paul Police Department.
When the KARE 11 crew hit the streets outside the fairgrounds, it was a matter of 10 minutes before we captured video of two people in traffic and on their phones.
Police launched the crackdown the day before the State Fair started and quickly started pulling people over.
"In one hour they cited ten drivers for distracted driving," said Linders.
Police say they are sending out officers dressed in plain clothing in unmarked cars to look for distracted drivers.
"One gentleman had his smart phone in his hands, and he was driving with his knees," said Linders. "Another one was stopping at green lights and driving through red lights--kind of doing it backwards."
The state fair tends to bring many more pedestrians and bicyclists through Saint Paul, and police say they hope their crackdown keeps those people safe in what's been a dangerous year so far.
"Already this year we've had 190 crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists," said Linders. "Of those 90 crashes, 120 people have been injured and two have been killed. So those are really important numbers, and we're not satisfied with them."
Police are not listing an end date to the distracted driving crackdown.
"Maybe it'll end when people stop using their smart phones while driving," said Linders. "Keep your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road. Look out for one another. It's safer for everybody."
According to Minnesota's No Texting While Driving Law, it's illegal for a driver to read, compose or send text messages or emails or access the internet on a mobile device while in traffic, even if your car is stopped. The fine for the first offense is smaller, but after the second and subsequent offenses, your fine jumps to at least $225.
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