Thursday, April 21, 2011

DYK: April 21 is Distracted Driving Enforcement Day?

If you've heard it once - you've heard it a thousand time - Distracted Driving is as bad as (if not worse than) Drunk Driving. As such, a concerted effort is underway today in the State of Minnesota to bring attention and awareness to the dangers of distracted driving - where by some counts, almost 70 deaths and 350 injuries can be directly attributed.  

Following a tragic accident in St. Louis Park, where a motorcyclist was nearly killed recently, this heightened patrol could not be more timely. So, how can you prepare yourself - and avoid a ticket?
What to Know

Generally speaking, the police are seeking to address four categories of distraction:

  • Visual - looking away from the road;
  • Physical - taking hands off the wheel to use a cell phone or adjusting radio/music device;
  • Cognitive - being “lost in thought” or focusing on a conversation, which results in less situational awareness;
  • Combination of the above - reading a map or texting while driving.
Some Suggestions
  • Cell phones — turn them off or place them out of reach so you're not tempted to dial or answer. If a passenger is present, ask them to handle calls/texts.
  • Music and other controls — pre-program favorite radio stations for easy access and arrange music (mp3 player/CDs/tapes) in an easy-to-access spot. Adjust mirrors and heat/AC before traveling, or ask a passenger for help.
  • Navigation — 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.
  • Eating and drinking — if you cannot avoid food/beverage, at least avoid messy foods, and be sure food and drinks are secured.
  • Children — 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’re a passenger, speak up to stop drivers from distracted driving behavior.

Understand that although distractions are aplenty when you're behind the wheel, there are instances where even the most this behavior is allowed.  Specifically, the law does not prohibit, use of a wireless communications device that is used solely in a voice-activated or other hands-free mode when making a call and/or otherwise when trying to seek emergency assistance to report a traffic accident, medical emergency, or serious traffic hazard, or to prevent a crime about to be committed. 

What To Do if You Get a Ticket

If you've been charged with a Distracted Driving-type offense- you really owe it to yourself to know your rights. One way to do that - contact an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney. The sooner you make that call, the better your defense will be.

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