Minnesota Drivers Not Getting the Message About the Dangers of Distracted Driving
April was Distracted Driving Awareness Month. All month long, law enforcement in Minnesota was striving to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and the state’s hands-free law prohibiting texting and driving. There were more than 275 agencies in Minnesota taking part in these efforts.
However, despite the extra attention, and four people dying in distracted driving crashes earlier this year, more than 3,400 drivers were ticketed for distracted driving in April.
Below, TSR Injury Law discusses the risks of distracted driving, along with Minnesota’s hands-free law and the penalties for violating it. If you were injured in a distracted driving crash, our Minneapolis vehicle crash lawyers are ready to help you seek compensation for your medical costs and other damages.
Call today. There are no upfront fees. (612) TSR-TIME.
Alarming Statistics on Distracted Driving in Minnesota
Mike Hanson, the director of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety, says it is “mind-blowing” that drivers do not understand why they should not be distracted behind the wheel. Drivers need to be focused on the road, not their phones, food or personal grooming, according to Hanson.
Distractions put drivers at much greater risk of a crash with another vehicle, and the results of these collisions can be devastating. In 2022 alone, 22 people died and there were 126 injuries attributed to distracted driving collisions in Minnesota.
Distracted driving is not just dangerous, some forms of it are illegal in Minnesota. Starting August 1, 2019, it became illegal to hold your phone or other electronic devices while you are driving. You are allowed to use your phone to make a call, send a text, listen to podcasts or music, or to get directions. However, this is only legal if you do so with voice commands or by activating the device with one touch.
The first distracted driving offense comes with a $120 fine. The second offense and subsequent offenses come with a $300 fine. You will also be responsible for paying court fees.
While distracted driving was a factor in one of every 11 car crashes in Minnesota between 2018 and 2022, the news is not all bad. In 2022, the number of deaths and serious injuries from distracted driving crashes hit their lowest levels since the hands-free law was passed in 2019.
What Are the Risks of Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving means operating your vehicle while your attention is diverted from the task of driving. Common examples of distracted driving activities include:
- Personal grooming
- Conversations with passengers
- Making a phone call
- Using a GPS device
- Pressing buttons on your dashboard
- Dealing with children in the back seat
There are three main types of distracted driving:
- Cognitive distractions – A cognitive distraction is one that affects your concentration while you are behind the wheel. For example, talking on the phone or texting are examples of things that divert your concentration from driving. Even if you are not looking at your phone, your brain is focused on the conversation. Your brain can only focus on so many things at a time, which is why cognitive distractions are so dangerous. Other examples of cognitive distractions can include thinking about something that stresses you out or simply being excited about where you are going.
- Visual distractions – Visual distractions are things that take your eyes off the road. For example, you may look away from the road to adjust the air conditioning or the radio. Other common examples may include talking to your child in the back seat or watching a weck on the side of the road while driving by.
- Physical distractions – These are distractions that result in the driver taking one or both hands off the wheel. Some examples include taking your hands off the wheel to eat or drink, or simply grabbing a dropped toy or device for a child.
Many distractions fall under all three categories. For example, texting takes one hand off the wheel, while also taking your eyes off the road and your mind off the task of being a safe driver.
The problem with distracted driving is that it makes it harder to operate your vehicle safely and avoid a collision. For example, if you look down at your phone for just five seconds while traveling at 55 miles per hour, you will have traveled the length of a football field. This dramatically increases the risk of a crash.
Texting and driving is often a contributing factor in rear-end collisions. Drivers are looking away from the road and when they look back, they are unable to stop before crashing into the back of the car in front of them. If they were paying attention, they would have been more likely to notice the stopped car in time to slow down and avoid a crash.
Distractions like conversations with passengers or anxiety about something going on in your life might not pull your eyes away from the road. However, your lack of concentration could result in speeding, a failure to stay in a lane, or failure to use a turn signal.
While many drivers say they understand the dangers of being distracted, they continue to engage in distracted driving behaviors. Many people are unaware of how long they are not focused while driving.
Call TSR Injury Law to Discuss Legal Options After a Crash
If you were injured or lost a loved one because another driver was distracted, our experienced lawyers may be able to help you seek compensation. Our firm has decades of experience helping Minnesota crash victims recover the compensation they need.
There are no upfront costs or fees with our services. The initial consultation is also free of charge. If we do not recover compensation, we do not get paid.
TSR Injury Law. Experienced Lawyers. Proven Results. Call (612) TSR-TIME.