April is Distracted Driving Month

DULUTH, MINN. — Since 2019, Minnesota has had a hands-free law in place for driving. The law is designed to keep people from being distracted while driving. Yet, in 2022 distracted drivers caused at least 126 injuries and 22 deaths.  Today, the Department of Public Safety and the Minnesota State Patrol kicked off Distracted Driving Enforcement and Awareness Month.

Although it’s against the law, many of us still use our cell phones while diving. You think “it will be okay.” But too often it’s not – just ask the parents of Phillip LaVallee who was killed ten years ago. At a news conference, they spoke about their son. But they have also created a website known as Just Drive Day. On the site, they talk about the crash that killed their son.

“He was on his daily run and a woman crossed over the center line of the road and struck him from behind, that was horrible,” said Amy LaVallee. “She got a call to her cellphone at the time of the crash. It was distracted driving.”

The Director of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety, Mark Hanson, is asking every driver to change their driving habit. Hanson said, “Put that cell phone away for April, for 30 days. You will find your driving task will be easier, will be less stressful and you’ll be a much safer driver.

If this plan doesn’t keep you from using your phone while driving, the state patrol and local law enforcement agencies will be looking to remind you with a ticket….and the fine for using a cell phone is at least- $100 the first time and $300 for a second offense.

And, if you injure or kill someone while using your phone you can face a felony charge of criminal vehicular operation or homicide.

It’s important to remember that a phone is not the only you can be distracted. Eating, drinking, kids, pets, and even the radio can all lead to distracted driving.  It’s your responsibility to keep fully focused on driving.

       The Facts:

  • In 2022 in Minnesota distracted driving contributed to 126 injuries and 22 deaths.
  • Distracted driving contributes to one in every 11 crashes in Minnesota.
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