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Distracted driving is NOT just texting. Learn about the dangers and consequences of texting and driving as well as other distractions first hand with the Distracted Driving simulator. Get times and more information below:
Sergeant Kevin Tussing, Northfield Police TZD Coordinator
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 6th, 2016
Pay Attention and Live: Extra Enforcement to Remind Drivers of Distraction Dangers
Northfield – Driver distraction can end peoples’ lives and turn the lives of those they left behind upside down. From family and friends to neighbors and coworkers, recent distracted driving tragedies include:
A New Prague school bus driver walking to get his morning paper was killed by a woman allegedly responding to a text.
A driver sending Facebook messages ran a red light, killing a father and his young daughter in Sherburne County.
A 20-year old suspected of being distracted lost control of his vehicle in Washington County, hit an embankment, went airborne and smashed into a car, killing a 22-year-old mother.
To enforce Minnesota’s no texting law, more than 300 law enforcement agencies across Minnesota will participate in the extra enforcement distracted driving campaign April 11th though the 17th, including the Rice County MOD Squad made up of the Northfield, Dundas and Faribault Police Departments, the Rice County Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota State Patrol 2160 District.
“It’s not about how good of a driver you are. It’s about the five seconds you take your eyes off the road. Don’t risk it.” Says Sergeant Kevin Tussing.
“We need to develop a traffic safety culture that does not condone driving while distracted much like we have done with drunk driving.” Says Vernon J. Betkey Jr. Director of the Maryland Highway safety office.
We need people to Buckle Up, Hang Up, and have their Heads Up, that it all Adds Up.
Reducing distracted driving requires a unified effort in Rice County and in Minnesota to influence each driver’s choices.
The Devastation of Distraction
Preliminary numbers show that distraction was a factor in nearly 17.4000 crashes in 2015, resulting in 74 deaths and 174 serious injuries.
In a five year period (2010-2014), 328 people lost their lives and 1,138 people suffered life-changing injuries in distracted driving-related crashes.
During the 2015 extra enforcement distracted driving campaign; law enforcement cited 909 drivers for texting and driving in Minnesota, a 65 percent increase of the previous year (550).
Enhanced Law Targets Repeat Offenders
In Minnesota, It is illegal for drivers to read, compose or send text and emails, and access the web while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic. That includes sitting at a stoplight or stop sign. It is also illegal for drivers with a permit or provisional driver’s license to use a cell phone while driving, except for emergencies to call 911. This also includes people driving commercial vehicles.
Under Minnesota law, drivers face a $50 fine plus court fees for a first offense and $275 in fines, plus court fees, for a second and subsequent violations of the texting while driving law.
If you injure or kill someone because of texting and driving, you can also face a felony charge of criminal vehicular operation.
Make the Safe Choice
Cell Phones- Put the phone down, turn it off or place it out of reach.
Music and other controls- Pre-program radio stations and arrange music in an easy-to-access spot. Adjust mirrors and ventilation before traveling.
Navigation-Map out the destinations and enter the GPS route in advance.
Eating and drinking- Avoid messy foods and secure drinks.
Children-Teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle and model proper driving behavior.
Passengers- Speak up to stop drivers from distracted driving behavior and offer help with anything that takes the driver’s attention off the road.
The Rice County MOD squad works in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety. The DPS-OTS is the anchoring partner of the state’s Towards Zero Deaths traffic safety program. 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 medical trauma response. Sergeant Kevin Tussing