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Distracted Driving Awareness Month in Minnesota

April 2013

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and many Minnesotans are waking up to the dangers of inattentive driving. Distracted driving can be caused by electronic devices, food, and even the behavior of passengers, but cell phones are particularly popular and dangerous distractions. Every year, thousands of people are killed and seriously injured by distracted drivers, and there is a movement of concerned citizens and government agencies hoping to save lives.

The Danger

The statistics associated with distracted driving are troubling. Reports indicate that injuries and deaths due to distracted driving are on the rise. In 2010, 3,267 fatalities were attributed to distracted driving. The number climbed to 3,331 in 2011. In 2010, 18 percent of crashes resulting in injury were reported as distracted driving crashes. For traffic fatalities under the age of 20, 11 percent are found to be distracted drivers at the time of the crash.

The risk of causing a crash is 23 times higher while texting. On average, one text message takes the driver’s eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. At a speed of 55 miles per hour, the vehicle travels roughly the length of a football field during that time.

The Law

The state of Minnesota has enacted specific laws to help reduce distracted driving. Bus drivers and minors with learner’s or provisional licenses are banned from all cell phone use, including hands-free devices. Additionally, all drivers are banned from texting behind the wheel.

The Department of Transportation has also enacted nationwide laws, including a ban on commercial drivers using cell phones.

The laws specific to Minnesota include:

  1. Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (Primary law)
  2. Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers (Primary law)
  3. Ban on texting for all drivers (Primary law)

The Aftermath

The aftermath of a car accident has the potential to haunt the individuals involved, including blameless victims of a distracted driver. It is absolutely essential to seek competent legal advice after a car accident to quickly resolve the legal and medical trouble caused by the crash. In Minnesota, the victim or the family of a victim should contact the law firm of Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben for personal injury legal services. If you have a personal injury claim, call for help at 612-377-7777 or toll-free at 1-800-752-4265 for a free consultation.

The Pledge

Even though drivers can be distracted by a variety of stimuli, most government agencies report that cell phones are the biggest culprit. The End Distracted Driving Pledge to reduce distracted driving includes three critical components. First, the driver pledges to completely eliminate cell phone use while driving. The pledge also asks passengers to discourage drivers from driving while distracted. Finally, the individual taking the pledge is encouraged to promote phone-free driving to friends and family.

Distracted driving kills and injures thousands of people each year. I pledge to:

  • Protect lives by never texting or talking on the phone while driving.
  • Be a good passenger and speak out if the driver in my car is distracted.
  • Encourage my friends and family to drive phone-free.

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