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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month
Posted on 04/01/2024
Distracted driving is a leading cause of crashes in Minnesota, and it is important to note that it is not just limited to using cellphones or texting. It can also include daydreaming, looking at something outside the vehicle, eating, grabbing objects, changing music, and dealing with rowdy passengers, children or pets. From 2018 to 2022, over 32,000 accidents were caused by distracted driving, contributing to 1 in every 11 crashes in Minnesota.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and from April 1-30, there will be extra distracted driving enforcement on all Minnesota roads. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety and the New Hope Police Department urge everyone to take action to prevent distracted driving.

It is a myth to think that drivers can multitask while driving.

Any distraction can be deadly. Visual distraction can occur when you look away from the road. Physical distraction happens when you take your hands off the steering wheel to do something else. Cognitive distraction can arise when you are lost in thought. There can be a combination of all these distractions, such as texting while driving. Texting while driving can make you take your eyes of the road for up to 4.6 out of every six seconds, which is like covering the length of a football field at 55 mph without looking up.

No one intends to cause harm by driving distracted, but good intentions do not prevent accidents- smart choices do.

Drive smart and park your phone and other distractions out of reach. Before you start driving, do what you can to eliminate distractions, like setting your music, putting your phone away or using hands-free devices. The Hands-Free Law, which went into effect on August 1, 2019, allows drivers to make calls, send texts, listen to music or podcasts and get directions, but only by voice commands or single-touch activation without holding their phone. Fines for violating this law include $100 or more, including court fees for a first offense, and $300 or more, including court fees for a second and/or subsequent offense. Drivers can no longer hold their phones while driving. Accessing or posting on social media, streaming videos, checking scores or searching for information on a device while driving is still against the law in Minnesota, even in handsfree mode. If you cause harm or death to someone while violating the hands-free law, you can face a felony charge of criminal vehicular operation or homicide.

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