Editorial: Always focus on the road when in the driver’s seat

Published 7:02 pm Wednesday, April 10, 2019

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, distracted driving contributes to one in five crashes in the state each year. In addition to the crashes, it has contributed to an average of 45 deaths and 204 lifechanging injuries a year from 2014 to 2018.

Though inattentive driving can be everything from daydreaming to reaching for items to changing music, texting citations are on the rise.

Across the state last year, law enforcement officers gave out 9,545 texting citations — up more than 2,000 from the previous year.

Law enforcement officers across the state are in the middle of an extra enforcement campaign that runs through April 30 to crack down on distracted driving.

This month and into the future, we encourage motorists to follow the advice of the Minnesota Department of Safety 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.

Help practice responsible driving on the road.