Minnesota has its on Distraction-Free Driving Day
Minnesota motorists had to pay more attention to their driving habits last week. On August 5th, Gov. Tim Pawlenty officially declared the date as Minnesota’s Distraction-Free Driving Day.
According to a statement from the The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) , distracted driving is the leading factor in crashes in Minnesota, accounting for at least 25% of all crashes annually, resulting in at least 70 deaths and 350 injuries. The DPS thinks the numbers are vastly underreported due to difficulties for an officer to determine if a driving distraction, such as texting while driving, contributed to a car crash.
More than 100 law enforcement agencies participated in the one-day campaign, which was supported by a series of print and radio public service announcement statewide.
“We’re reinforcing that there are serious dangers associated with texting while driving,” says Cheri Marti, DPS director of the Office of Traffic Safety. “No matter how important you think the text you are sending or reading is, it’s not worth endangering others’ safety and causing a crash.”
Since 2008, Minnesota has banned all adult drivers from reading and composing text or email messages as well as browsing the Web on a wireless device while in a moving vehicle. Drivers under the age of 18 are banned from using a cellphone at all times.
In conclusion, the DPS offers these tips to minimize distractions:
· Cell phones — turn off cell phones, or place them out of reach to avoid the urge to dial/answer or text. If a passenger is present, ask them to handle calls/texts.
· Music and other controls — pre-program favorite radio stations and arrange music in an easy-to-access spot. Adjust mirrors and AC/heat before traveling, or ask a passenger to assist.
· Navigation — designate a passenger to serve as a co-pilot to help with directions. If driving alone, map out destinations in advance, and pull over to study a map.
· Eating and drinking — if you cannot avoid food/beverage, at least avoid messy foods, and be sure food and drinks are secured.
· Children — teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle; do not underestimate how distracting it can be to tend to children while driving
Source: Minnesota Department of Public Safety press release, August 5, 2010