Editorial: Drop the phone and drive the carPublished 9:34am Monday, January 14, 2013
The Tribune was sad to learn the recent trend of decreasing traffic deaths in Freeborn County and the state had reversed in 2012. Before any driver considers picking up their phone to send a text, we hope they heed this warning.
Distracted drivers likely played a role in Minnesota’s increased traffic death toll in 2012, after five years of decreasing numbers, according to data released last week by the Department of Public Safety’s office. Preliminary DPS reports show 378 people died statewide in 2012 — a total expected to grow as they finalize the data — up from 368 in 2011, and three people died in Freeborn County compared to just two the year before.
Local reports indicate there were five traffic deaths in 2012, including two stemmed from a medical condition.
While drunken drivers have been a concern for decades — and DWI arrests actually decreased in Minnesota from 30,000 in 2011 to 27,000 in 2012 — the number of people with cell phones, and the ever-increasing functionality of those phones and other mobile electronics is a much more recent impediment. Ten years ago, most drivers kept cell phones safely tucked away for emergencies, but today many can’t go 10 minutes, whether they’re driving or not, without sending a text or checking their email.
We hope every driver puts safety first this year, and realizes their lives and the lives of motorists in the other lane are more important than a prompt reply.