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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April 2018

Although many people feel like technology is making them safer on the road, it could be putting their lives at risk. Infotainment dashboards, cell phones and hands-free technology are making driving more dangerous. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Use this time to educate yourself and others about the importance of focusing on the road.

What Is Distracted Driving?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving occurs when the person behind the wheel is paying attention to something other than the road. While this may involve electronic devices, it doesn’t have to. Distracted driving can occur when you’re talking to other passengers, eating, smoking or dealing with your children in the backseat.

One of the most dangerous behaviors to engage in while driving is texting. Reading a text behind the wheel is like driving with a blindfold on.

Even using a hands-free device to chat on the phone can be unsafe. The New York Times reports that when passengers in the car are talking to you, they tend to quiet down when driving conditions change. Plus, they can act as an extra set of eyes in hazardous conditions. Researchers have found that having a conversation via Bluetooth or a cell phone diverts drivers’ attention, making them just as likely as a drunk driver to get into an accident.

How To Avoid Distracted Driving

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety claims that distracted driving is responsible for 25 percent of the state’s vehicle crashes every year. Drivers can take action to reduce this statistic by paying attention while driving. 

Even some activities that feel routine can divert your focus from the road. Stop the distraction by:

  • Turning off cell phones while you drive – No call or text is urgent enough to put driving safety at risk.
  • Adjust dashboard controls before you drive – Mirrors, music and seats should be adjusted while your car is in park. 
  • Don’t look at maps while moving – Enlist a passenger to help you navigate, or use a voice-enabled GPS system. Pull over if you need to inspect a map.
  • Limit eating and drinking – Keep beverages in cup holders, and make sure that they won’t spill or tip over while you’re driving. Don’t eat while you’re behind the wheel.
  • Teach kids how to behave – Children can be a huge distraction in the car. If they are fighting or need your attention, pull over, and don’t move the car until they conduct themselves better.
  • Be a proactive caller – When you’re calling someone, ask if they’re driving before you begin the conversation. Call back later if your friend is behind the wheel.

Distracted Driving Laws

It is against the law to text and drive in many states, including Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota. Although using electronics while driving is a dangerous problem, crash data involving cell phones is underreported. There is no reliable way to confirm the number of collisions in which distracted driving was a contributing factor.

You can help by spreading the word about distracted driving to friends and family members. You can also take the National Safety Council’s Pledge to drive without distractions. 

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident and you think that distracted driving was to blame, contact the experienced car accident attorneys at Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben to protect your rights and get the compensation that you deserve. Call 612-377-7777 or toll free at 1-800-752-4265 for a free consultation.

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