Editorial: Set aside distractions while behind the wheel

Published 8:50 pm Friday, March 29, 2024

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Things can change in an instant. And when you’re on the road, that could mean the difference between life and death.

In the month of April, the Albert Lea Police Department and Freeborn County Sheriff’s Department are joining forces with law enforcement across the state for a campaign to reduce distracted driving.

It’s a good time for us all to take a few moments to refocus our minds on the road and reassess our behaviors while behind the wheel.

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From 2019-23, distracted driving caused more than 30,000 crashes, killed 29 people and led to 146 life-changing injuries in Minnesota.

While cell phones are still problematic, they are not the only distractions people have while driving.

While it is illegal to hold your phone while you drive, it is also against the law to access or post on social media, stream videos, check a box score or Google information on a device while driving, even in hands-free mode.

Aside from phones, distractions can also come from eating while you drive, talking with or interacting with passengers, changing your radio and the list goes on and on.

We must recognize that these distractions occur and not let our guards down, particularly in the spring, when more people will be out walking and children and adults alike will be taking to the streets on bicycles.

Soon also, road work season will be starting, and crews will be out surveying and doing other work. Not to mention in a few months, farmers will hit the fields for spring work.

Simply put, new hazards are coming to our roads and need our attention.

We encourage you to recognize the distractions that you most fall prey to while driving and set them aside for your own and others’ safety.