The Worst Habits of Minnesota Distracted Drivers
In Minnesota, there are tens of thousands of car accidents each year. While the reasons behind these accidents vary, one of the most preventable reasons these accidents occur is distracted driving.
That is why one of the most important things people can do behind the wheel of their car is to keep their eyes on the road and reduce the distractions around them, in addition to understanding what types of things serve as distractions in the first place. If you’re involved in a car accident that was the fault of a distracted driver, then there are important things to know about the law, too.
Distracted Driving: What Is it?
Distracted driving, also sometimes called inattentive driving, occurs when a person operating a motor vehicle participates in an activity that distracts them from driving. It increases the chances of an accident.
Distractions include talking on the phone, eating, or trying to control a pet sitting in the backseat. Texting while driving is also a big distraction, but it’s only a small part of the bigger picture.
Worst Habits of Distracted Drivers
What sort of habits do distracted drivers most often display? Most of the common things you’ll see people who drive distracted frequently doing include:
Texting is a big no-no and is the number one reason people get distracted while driving. Unlike other forms of distracted driving, this form pulls your attention away visually, manually (taking your hands off the wheel), and cognitively, which is why it’s so dangerous. Those who struggle not to use their phone behind the wheel should attempt to keep it out of reach or off when they’re driving to stay safe on the roads.
Life can get pretty busy, so many people pick up some food to eat during their commute. The problem is that it’s dangerous to eat while you’re driving, as it’s an action that only serves to take your attention off the road in front of you. It might be better to pack food you can eat at your destination or eat before you leave your home in the morning.
Anyone with kids can tell you that sometimes they can be a huge distraction while driving for a variety of reasons, but they’re also one of the reasons you should endeavor to be careful when behind the wheel and keep focused. If you notice your kids are a huge source of distraction while driving, then try to occupy them while you’re in the car so you can keep your attention on the road. Snacks or technology are great tools that keep everyone safer.
Cars have all sorts of bells and whistles these days, but the GPS or podcast on your car’s screen may serve as a distraction while driving if you’re not careful. Set everything you need up before going anywhere. If you need to make adjustments, then find someplace to stop so you can safely do so.
Things Going On Around You
It can be very easy to become distracted by something that’s not even in your car, such as gawking at an accident or a billboard that screams for your attention. You have to work to simply tune out all that stuff and keep your focus on the road.
Minnesota Distracted Driving Laws
There are laws in Minnesota that try to limit some of the distractions people deal with when driving. Since 2008, the state has made it illegal to text while driving, including sending messages or reading them when stopped.
Minnesota also implemented a law in 2019 that required those driving in vehicles to use their devices hands-free when driving a vehicle. You are allowed to touch your phone to activate it but cannot do anything that requires multiple touches, such as dialing or entering a GPS location.
You cannot legally use handheld phones as a driver in Minnesota, nor can you send a text message or use the internet when driving. Drivers who are under the age of 18 cannot use a phone hands-free in the car. In addition, bus drivers cannot perform this function while the bus is in motion.
If you are caught violating Minnesota’s distracted driving laws, you can be charged with a petty misdemeanor. That can result in a $50 fine for first-time offenders. A $275 fine is charged each time thereafter if you are caught breaking the law.
About the Author:
A lifelong Minnesotan, founding partner Ronald R. Envall has spent his entire legal career fighting for the little guy, focusing on workers’ compensation, Social Security, and personal injury cases. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers as a Top Rated attorney in Duluth, placing him in the top 5 percent of all workers comp lawyers across the state. In his free time, Mr. Envall serves on the boards of several area government and nonprofit organizations and is a member of the Minnesota Association for Justice, which supports consumer rights.