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Distracted Driving: Tips From The Minnesota DPS

Whether anecdotally, on news reports, in movies or stories told by friends and family, distracted drivers are to be feared and avoided. Unfortunately, distractions are so common – and the activities are so minute – that we all fall victim to distractions in our own cars.

The first step toward eradicating this danger on the road is to understand what distractions actually are – and work to avoid them.

Many people assume that distracted driving involves an egregious activity like sending a text or doing your makeup while operating a motor vehicle. While these actions certainly represent driving distractions, they are at the extreme end of the spectrum. In fact, any activity that takes your attention from the road – even for a second – is a distraction.

Distractions can be categorized in three ways.

  1. Manual distraction: Any activity that takes your hands or feet away from the control surfaces of the car. Reaching into the passenger seat to grab a breakfast bar, for example.
  2. Visual distraction: Any activity that takes your eyes off the road. Looking into the backseat while having a conversation with a passenger is an example of looking away from the road.
  3. Cognitive distraction: Any activity that takes your mental focus away from the act of driving. Daydreaming, for example, can make you a dangerous driver.

Many activities become a combination of two or more of these distractions. The act of sending a text, for example, contains elements of all three distractions.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety offers tips to help drivers avoid these dangerous distractions:

  • Turn off cell phones or place them out of reach to avoid the urge to dial or answer a call.
  • Pre-program radio stations or playlists in your mp3 player.
  • Try to avoid eating or drinking while driving. At the very least, avoid messy foods.
  • Teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle.
  • Be honest with passengers. If they are distracting you – tell them.

Stay safe while driving and if you were in an accident caused by a distracted driver, contact an experienced car accident attorney to learn more about your options for monetary compensation through a personal injury claim.

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