Distracting driving is a big problem in Minnesota. According to the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety, distracted or inattentive driving was a contributing factor in one of five crashes, resulting in an average of 53 deaths and 216 serious injuries each year between 2013 and 2017. And, these numbers are probably low due to law enforcement’s challenge in determining distraction as a factor.
So, what is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is when a driver engages in any activity that might distract them from the primary task of driving, thus increasing their risk of crashing. For many of us, driving is something we do without much thought; it’s second nature. Still, because the traffic environment changes constantly we must be prepared to react. Mitigating distractions is one way to do this.
The distracted driving laws that currently are on the books in Minnesota include:
Texting & Web Access – It is illegal for drivers of all ages to access the Internet or compose, read or send electronic messages on a wireless device when the vehicle is in motion or parked in traffic (which includes being stopped in traffic or at a stoplight). The law does not apply to devices that are permanently affixed to the vehicle or to GPS navigation systems.
Cell Phone Use and Texting – It is illegal for drivers under the age of 18 to use a cell phone – both hand-held and hands-free – except for to call 911. Also, school bus drivers are prohibited by law to use a cell phone while operating the bus in traffic (either moving or parked).
Reckless or Careless Driving – This is a bit more nebulous. Distracted drivers can be ticketed for reckless or careless driving when their actions demonstrate a disregard for the safety or rights of others. Many of these accidents involve speeding during the warm, dry months as opposed to the snowy, icy months.
We all face many potential distractions while we drive, but there are things you can do to help yourself not get distracted:
Cutting back on possible distractions is good for your safety and well being and the safety and well being of those around you. Keep in mid that according to the website Fleetio, sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field, blindfolded.
And, if you go to their website, you can see how far your vehicle travels in five seconds at different speeds.
For more information on the dangers of distracted driving, please feel free to contact me or click here for additional resources.
And finally, please remember that no call or text is worth your life.