Distracted Driving: It’s Not Just Talking and Texting on Your Phone
AAA’s top tips to keep drivers focused on the road during distracted driving awareness month and all year long
MINNEAPOLIS, MN— In Minnesota, 32 people died, and another 3,279 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2019, according to the latest data from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety. AAA believes no life is worth losing to distraction. Focused drivers save lives. AAA urges all drivers to pay attention and focus on the road during this National Distracted Driving Awareness month and all year long.
“Nationwide, nearly 3,000 people are killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, contributing to the 36,560 lives lost to crashes on U.S. roadways in 2018,” said Meredith Terpstra, AAA Minneapolis’ Community Relations and PR Specialist. “There is no text worth reading or sending when injuring or killing someone is the potential cost.”
Distractions include more than texting. Anything that diverts attention from driving – eating and drinking, adjusting the navigation, or picking your next podcast, talking to other passengers, or talking or texting on the phone—can result in a fatal injury.
Even with taking a step in the right direction with the hands-free law, hands-free is not risk-free, despite what some drivers believe. Even with your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, you are not safe unless your mind focuses on the drive.
Looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash.
Here are AAA’s Top Tips to Avoid Distractions While Driving:
- Prepare for your drive. Set vehicle systems like GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time. And please, finish dressing and personal grooming at home – before you get on the road.
- Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated. The consequences of alcohol-impaired driving and texting while driving could be the same: Put aside electronic distractions and never use text messaging, email, video games or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle, while driving. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call/text blocking features.
- Stay focused. Do not let anything divert your attention. Be sure to actively scan the road, use your mirrors, and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists. If you have passengers, enlist their help as a “designated texter.” Ask them to answer your calls, respond to texts and program the navigation.
- Park the phone. Before you put your vehicle on drive, make sure to park your phone in designated location that it will stay for the duration of the trip.
Violating Minnesota’s distracted driving laws can be costly.
Know before you go. In Minnesota:
- Distracted drivers can be ticketed for reckless or careless driving when their actions demonstrate a disregard for the safety or rights of others. Reckless and Careless Driving Statute - M.S. 169.13
- Cell phone use is totally banned for school bus drivers. School bus driver statute --MS 169.443 Subd. 9(b)
- It is illegal for drivers under age 18 to use a cell phone, whether hand-held or hands-free — except to call 911 in an emergency. Permit and Provisional License statues--MS 171.05 and MS 171.055 Subd. 2(a)
- Minnesota has a “Hands-Free” law that went into effect August 2019. Texting and web access statute — M.S. 169.475
Minnesota’s “Hands-Free” Law
It’s illegal for drivers to read, send texts 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.
- The first ticket is more than $120, which includes the fine plus court fees.
- The second and later tickets are more than $300, which includes the fine plus court fees.
- Potential for increased insurance rates.
- If you injure or kill someone under the hands-free law, you can face a felony charge of criminal vehicular operation or homicide.
- Visit AAA.com/HandsFree for more details on the law.
For more information on Distracted driving and how to prevent it, visit AAA.com/dontdrivedistracted.
About AAA Minneapolis: AAA Minneapolis, headquartered in St. Louis Park, MN, is an affiliate club of the American Automobile Association (AAA). Serving over 25% of households in Hennepin County and parts of Anoka and Carver Counties, AAA Minneapolis provides its 209,000+ members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA Minneapolis club has been an area leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. For more information on AAA Minneapolis visit Minneapoils.AAA.com.
About AAA: AAA provides more than 61 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 32 motor clubs and more than 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel, or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.