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Car Crash Death Rates Increase in Minnesota during Coronavirus Shutdown

May 2020

The most dreaded task for any Minnesota State Patrol officer is letting family members know that their loved one was killed in a car accident. Even though lockdowns have slowed down overall traffic significantly, an astounding number of individuals are still being injured and killed in motor vehicle accidents. Those who are driving these days are often taking greater chances behind the wheel as they see wide open roads.

Minnesota is one state that is currently experiencing a higher than normal rate of fatal car accidents. North Carolina, Connecticut, Oklahoma and Louisiana are a few others that are experiencing similar trends despite the lower numbers of vehicles currently on the roads. Two of the biggest reasons for this are increases in speeding and distracted driving. In fact, in April 2020, 143 drivers in Minnesota were stopped for driving at speeds over 100 miles per hour, compared to 58 people during the same month in 2019. This was a 146 percent jump from the previous year.

The new hands-free law in Minnesota is designed to reduce injuries and deaths from distracted driving by getting one’s attention off a cell phone and onto the road. Under this law, drivers may only use their cell phones while driving if they use voice commands or single-touch activation. Drivers are not allowed to hold their phones, make video calls, play games, look at pictures, scroll, type on the phone or use any apps other than those designed for navigation while driving. The only time drivers can hold their cell phones is when they need emergency assistance.

While this law does not completely eliminate distracted driving, it certainly makes roads safer. States that have implemented hands-free laws have seen an average decrease of 15 percent in fatal car accidents. In addition, police and state patrol officers find it easier to see violators and enforce the law.

Although going hands-free requires major adjustments for some drivers, it does not have to be costly or difficult. The best, safest and cheapest option is for drivers to put their cell phones away while driving. Drivers could use a do-not-disturb function or even put their phones in the glove compartment or backseat. This can significantly reduce distracted driving and may even be able to make the driving experience more enjoyable.

If you do need to use your cell phone during the trip, there are a few smart options. 

  • You could use an earphone or a bluetooth earpiece as long as it is only in one ear.
  • You could also pair your phone to your vehicle if your vehicle has this capability.
  • If you cannot wirelessly pair your phone, you could instead use an inexpensive auxiliary cable to connect your phone’s earphone jack to the AUX jack in your vehicle. In an older car, you could even get an adapter for your cassette tape player.
  • If you have a bit more money to spend, you could purchase a clip or mount to attach your cell phone to your dashboard or to the lower part of your windshield.

While following these precautions can help you avoid car accidents and injuries yourself, you or a loved one could still be involved in a serious automobile accident. It is important to work with a lawyer during a situation such as this so that you can get the financial compensation appropriate for the injury.

The experienced accident lawyers at Schwebel, Goetz and Sieben understand how difficult it is to be involved in a serious automobile accident. Contact us today if you or a loved one has been the victim of a distracted driving accident. We offer free consultations and can help you through this difficult time. Call 612-377-7777 or toll free at 1-800-752-4265.

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