'Busted by the bus' tickets multiple distracted drivers in Moorhead

MOORHEAD, M.N. (KVLY) Today 14 drivers were ticketed by Moorhead law enforcement as they're working to discourage distracted driving.

Officers from the Moorhead Police Department, Clay County Sheriff's Department and the MN State Patrol are riding on school buses on 8th Street, keeping an eye out for drivers texting behind the wheel. The operation is to also make sure drivers are following the rules related to school buses.

"Luckily we haven't seen any real crazy things. We're just watching people text and drive," Deric Swenson with Moorhead Police said.

From the birds eye view, officers can see cars passing by and stopped beside them—Calling in one of the five reinforcements stationed around the area if a driver starts using their phone. Officers busted three distracted drivers while our reporter was along for the ride this afternoon.

"But we also watch other things that are distracting. Where people are driving with their knees and eating with both hands. Again that's not necessarily against the law, but we're looking at trying to fight that urge and focus on why they're on the roadway and that's to drive," Swenson said.

But officials are also hoping to bring some extra awareness to school buses.

Swenson says just this school year, there's been 110 violations where drivers have simply just ignored the stop arm and gone around a bus.

"It's usually because they're distracted. Most people are going to stop for those buses if they see those lights flashing. So, today we're trying to draw extra attention to the fact when you see a school bus you need to pay attention," Swenson said.

Moorhead officials say last year, 27 drivers were ticketed. Adding that they hope the lower amount of citations given this year means drivers are being more mindful with their cell phone use.

Busted by the bus will also run next Monday, April 29th on the same route.

Distracted driving education is a component Minnesota’s core traffic safety initiative, Toward Zero Deaths (TZD).

A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.

These enforcement efforts are possible through grant funding provided by the MN Office of Traffic Safety.