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DISTRACTED DRIVING-- ARE YOU AT FAULT?
By Nancy Johnson, Pres. MSD
 

Talking on your cell phone, texting, eating, putting on makeup, looking away from the road, etc., etc., etc., THESE ARE ALL FORMS OF DISTRACTED DRIVING and they are becoming the leading cause of death and injuries on our roadways. Even though no one plans to cause a crash; that would be attempted murder, the reality is that most drivers don’t drive safely nor do they obey all the traffic laws. When a crash happens, it is perceived to be “a tragic accident.” An accident is defined to be “an unexpected or unintended happening.” When a driver violates traffic laws or chooses to not pay full attention to driving, the results of those actions are not an accident. When a serious crash happens to you, your life and the life of your family changes dramatically. There may be medical and certainly emotional issues to deal with and having auto insurance will help you financially recover from the aftermath of a crash; but your life may never be the same. So it is most important to prevent the crash from happening in the first place.

At one time drunk driving was acceptable, just an accident, and over 50% of fatal crashes were alcohol related.  That started to change when victims, surviving family members, and those who didn’t want to be victims of these crashes said “This is not acceptable, it has to stop!”  These advocates pushed the Legislatures across the country to create and strengthen laws to make them address the seriousness of drunk driving and they also went to the public to encourage them to change behaviors. It was a difficult process but it is working and now instead of 50% alcohol involvement it is down to less than a third of fatal traffic crashes; 32% last year in Minnesota. We all need to do this again for non- alcohol related crashes.  Join us at MSD to make this change.

Driving has become a habit and a “secondary” activity. This is wrong! Driving must always be your number one priority. Besides texting, most other forms of distracted driving are not against the law except when a crash happens.

Is a life worth picking up that CD from the floor, putting on your makeup, communicating or texting while driving!!! Do you want to be in the position to have to apologize to the victim’s family in court or cause suffering to your family when they are notified of your death or the suffering you may have to go through because of the serious injury that you caused yourself?

Right now Minnesota has a law against texting
by ANY driver and all cell phone use is against the law
for those on a provisional license

A lot of talk surrounds the issue of cell phone use while driving. Many people think that hands- free cell phone use is the answer. According to every study I have seen, the problem is with the intensity of the conversation not how the phone is being held. Of course looking down to dial a number is distractive as is anytime your eyes leave the road.  Many of us think that our time in the car could be used more productively doing our work or family calls along with driving, but lives are at risk when we multi-task, and no call is worth a life.  Remember, keeping your eyes on the road isn’t enough unless your attention is also on the road.

We need the public’s help in this movement to decrease traffic crashes.  Everyone needs to first buckle-up, it’s your first line of defense against the impaired and distracted driver, secondly focus 100% on your driving, be a role model for your kids, and thirdly, speak out to friends, relatives and your legislators as to the seriousness of driving safely. Traffic crashes are NOT accidents they are preventable.

Minnesotans for Safe Driving is against all distraction while driving

For more information on distractive driving, besides our website, go to www.distraction.gov and www.focusdriven.org