MnDOT District 1
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Local law enforcement and high school students join forces to stop distracted driving
Prom and graduation seasons spark need to pay attention behind the wheel
Duluth — Distracted driving is a leading cause of crashes, and the Northeastern Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths Steering Committee is launching a media event to remind local communities to pay attention behind the wheel.
The Northeast Minnesota TZD Steering Committee and Driving 4 Safe Communities traffic safety coalition will join forces with the Proctor High School Destination Imagination Team “SMART” – Safety Means Always Responsible Thinking at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 18th, at the Proctor High School Field House, 131 9th Ave. in Proctor.
As part of the educational events a car from a fatal distracted driving crash will be on display at Proctor High School. The young woman was ejected from the car and killed because she was texting and driving.
Other Distracted Driving Awareness events will be on the following days and locations:
- April 16 — University of Minnesota Duluth and Lake Superior College
- April 18 — Proctor High School
- April 22 — East High School
- April 23 — Denfeld High School
- April 25 — Floodwood High School
- April 26 — Marshall High School
Northeast Minnesota law enforcement are highlighting distracted driving during the prom and graduation seasons — in the last three years distracted teen drivers were involved in crashes that resulted in 25 deaths and 4,505 injuries.
“Your focus behind the wheel is far more important than the text message you are sending or reading behind the wheel,” says Lt. Jason Hanson, Minnesota State Patrol. “Drivers need to make a serious effort to recognize and limit dangerous and unnecessary distractions, and passengers need to speak up to stop and prevent drivers from texting.”
Driver distraction is a leading crash factor in Minnesota, accounting for around 20 percent of all crashes annually, resulting in at least 70 deaths and 350 injuries, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety - Office of Traffic Safety.
In Minnesota, it is illegal for drivers to read, compose or send texts/emails, and access the Web on a wireless device while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic, such as at a stoplight or stuck in traffic. It is also illegal for drivers under age 18 to use a cell phone at any time. Distractions cause drivers to react more slowly to traffic conditions or events, such as a vehicle stopping or pulling out in traffic. A University of Utah study reports that using a cell phone while driving, whether hands-free or hand-held, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having an alcohol-concentration level of 0.08 percent. And when texting, drivers take their eyes off the road for up to 4.6 out of every 6 seconds — equivalent to traveling the length of a football field at 55 mph hours without looking up.
The Northeastern Minnesota Law Enforcement agencies underscore driver distractions include reaching for items, fiddling with radio/music/vehicle controls, eating/drinking, dealing with rowdy passengers, grooming and more.
Tips to minimize distractions:
Drivers - Hang Up and Drive
- Turn off the cell phone, or place it out of reach.
- If on a phone conversation with someone driving, ask them to call you back.
- Texting, emailing and Web use while driving is illegal in Minnesota —
including when stopped in traffic.
- Drivers under age 18 are prohibited from any cell phone use.
- Map out and study directions before your trip.
- Teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle.
- Speak up to stop drivers from engaging in distracted behaviors.
- Assist with phone, directions and radio/music controls.
Distracted driving education is a component of Minnesota’s core traffic safety initiative, Toward Zero Deaths (TZD). A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.