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Minnesotans continue to be victims of distracted drivers

In 2009, Minnesota banned texting while driving. Since that time, the Office of Traffic Safety at Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety estimates that some 86,000 car accidents have resulted because a driver was distracted. While the department fails to track how many of these accidents were attributable to drivers who were texting, it's likely that a large percentage of driver were using a cellphone or mobile device to talk, text or search.

In a recent state-wide crackdown, more than 500 drivers were cited for texting while driving. While texting and driving continues to be a focus of law enforcement officials and a major public safety concern, drivers often engage in a number of other distracting and dangerous behaviors while operating a motor vehicle.

Eating, reading, attending to personal hygiene matters and tending to children in the backseat are all distractions that serve to take a driver's attention and focus off of the road. During 2013 alone, distracted driving was cited for causing more than 17,500 car accidents in Minnesota. Of these reported accidents, 68 people died and more than 8,000 suffered injuries.

These alarming statistics prove that distracted driving is a major public safety problem that must be addressed. To prevent becoming another statistic, drivers are advised to keep distractions to a minimum. This is especially true when it comes to the use of cellphones and other mobile devices that, when on, often compel a driver to engage.

Drivers or passengers who have been involved in an accident in which a driver was engaging in a distracting behavior may choose to take legal action. No text message or phone call is worth risking a person's life. Drivers who choose to drive while distracted should be held accountable for their actions and the negative implications those actions have on the lives of others.

Source: Star Tribune, "Police take new aim at texting, driving," Mary Lynn Smith, April 22, 2014

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