If we are being honest, almost every one of us would have to admit that at some time in our lives, we have engaged in distracted driving.  This would include, talking on the phone, reading or sending a text message, fiddling with the radio, eating food or even putting on makeup.  With the advent of cell phones, satellite radio, and GPS systems, the potential distractions we face while driving are greater than ever before.  Most people don’t realize that at 55 mph, a vehicle will travel the length of a football field in just 3.5 seconds.

These distractions are causing our roads to be less safe.  According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, every year, distracted or inattentive driving is a factor in at least 1 out of every 4 crashes, and has resulted in at least 70 deaths and 350 injuries.  This has led to legislative action in an attempt to combat the growing trend of distracted driving. For example, in Minnesota, it is illegal for ALL drivers to read or send text messages and emails, or to access the Internet, while operating a motor vehicle (even while stopped at a red light).  Any cell phone use is also illegal for school bus drivers, as well as teen drivers who have their permit or provisional license.

While all drivers should abide by the law, there are also simple actions that can and should be taken to limit the dangers of distracted driving. The Minnesota Department of Public safety recommends adhering to the following safety tips.

  • Turn off cell phones or place them out of reach to avoid the urge to dial or answer.  If a passenger is present, ask them to handle calls/texts.  If you must use the phone, pull over to a safe place before phoning or texting.

  • Pre-program favorite radio stations for easy access and arrange music (mp3 player/CDs/tapes) in an easy to access spot. Adjust mirrors and temperature before you start your trip.

  • If driving alone, map out destinations in advance, and pull over if you need to refer to a map.  Never attempt to program a GPS while driving.  Have a passenger assist in navigation.

  • Try to avoid eating and drinking while driving.  At a minimum, avoid eating messy foods that are difficult to eat, and be sure food and drinks are secured.

  • Teach children the importance of good behavior while in a vehicle and do not underestimate how distracting it can be to tend to children while driving.

Following these simple tips will help make the roads safer for everyone. If you, or someone you know has been injured by a distracted driver, call one of the experienced attorneys at Nelson Personal Injury today for a free consultation.