April is Distracted Driver Awareness Month. Why? Consider these responses to recent surveys of distracting activities while driving:
2/3 admit to driving while talking on cell phones.
1/3 sent or read text messages while driving.
15% had “a romantic encounter” while driving.
9% combed or styled their hair while driving.
8% applied makeup while driving.
4% brushed or flossed their teeth or took a “selfie” while driving.
Distracted driving is any activity that takes the driver’s mind off the task of driving. Many drivers surveyed above know their distracted driving is illegal and may be a serious threat to themselves or other drivers. But they do it anyway.
According to statistics for 2012 from the Office of Traffic Safety at the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the following were caused by distracted driving:
From 2009 to 2013, 25% of all crashes—more than 86,000—were attributed to distracted driving. Distracted driving caused more than four times the numbers of crashes with injuries than drunken driving.
“Five seconds is the average time a person’s eyes are off the road while texting”, said Dawn Duffy, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. “For a motorist traveling at 55 miles per hour that’s like covering the length of a football field blind folded,” she said.
Although there are no specific penalties for “distracted driving”, there are penalties—usually only fines—for use of cell phones and texts while driving. However, distracted drivers may be charged with criminal vehicular homicide (death) or criminal vehicular driving resulting in great bodily harm if the use of cell phones or text messages cause a crash resulting in death or serious personal injury.
Click here to view a distracted driving demonstration:
 National Safety Council Survey and AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Report quoted in Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 6, 2015.
 Minnesota Statute Section 609.21, subd. 1(1).