Don’t risk distraction

Published 10:49 am Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Everyone thinks it won’t happen to them.

Driving while talking on the phone, eating a messy sandwich or reaching down to get something that fell on the floor, you never envision yourself getting into a crash because of it.

But it happens all the time — and it happens locally.

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According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, at least 25 percent of all crashes each year in the state are caused by distracted driving.

And that includes more than just cell phone use and texting.

Inattentive driving can be everything from daydreaming to reaching for items to changing music. It’s anything that causes you to lose your focus on the road.

The Minnesota Department of Safety offers some quick tips to minimize distractions while driving:

  • Turn off cell phones or place them out of reach to avoid the urge to dial or answer. The passenger can handle all calls or texts.
  • Adjust mirrors, heat, air conditioning and the radio before traveling.
  • Designate a passenger to serve as a co-pilot to help with directions. If driving alone, map out destinations in advance, and pull over to study a map.
  • Teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle; do not underestimate how distracting it can be to tend to children while driving.
  • If you cannot avoid food/beverage, at least avoid messy foods, and be sure food and drinks are secured.

It’s a challenge that drivers face is staying alert during routine trips, and while food, phones and fiddling with gadgets might feel like an answer, resisting those temptations will ultimately help ensure that the trip goes well.