Roadways are for driving, not texting

It’s no secret that everyone on the road wants to arrive at their destination safely. Unfortunately, motor vehicle crashes happen all too often, even around here on the streets surrounding campus.

This became all-too-apparent Tuesday as I was driving along Stadium Road when I spotted a two-car collision at the intersection of Monks and Stadium. Being the budding journalist that I am, I decided to park my car and take a few photos and possibly talk with a few of the witnesses. After I was assured no one was seriously hurt, I snapped a few photos and left the scene.

As I began looking through the photos of the wreckage, I couldn’t help but ponder how easily crashes happen. In fact, according to mnsafedriving.com, 411 people died on Minnesota highways last year. Of those crashes with multiple vehicles, driver inattention accounted for 22.7% of all crashes, failure to yield 19.8%, following too closely 14.2% and speeding 6%.

It is no surprise to me that driver inattention accounts for the largest percentage of crashes. In today’s world, people are so interconnected with each other. We hear a good song on the radio, so we SnapChat our friends a video. We get a text and we respond. Twitter notification? Sure, check it. We can multitask, right?

The truth is that ‘multitasking’ shouldn’t be considered in high-stakes situations like driving. You wouldn’t try to shoot an arrow at an apple your friend is holding and text, would you? The same rationale should be true for driving as well.

But we’ve heard it all before. I know I have. We’ve seen demonstrations, maybe even taken pledges, but our phones still beckon to us whether we are sitting in class or driving 70 mph down 169.

With this obvious draw to our phones, how can we expect to stay safe on the road? What can we do?

Thankfully, a few simple tricks can help us be more attentive on the road; not only for our sake, but for the sake of others as well.

First, turn your phone on silent and stow it somewhere out of your field of vision. If you have a friend with, designate him or her as your official correspondent for all of your personal messages that need attention. If you have a fear of missing an important call, turn your ringer on, but still leave your phone out of your reach.

If you absolutely must check your phone on a long trip, pullover to check messages, making sure you are fully stopped.

With such a daily task like driving, its easy to take our safety for granted and get too relaxed behind the wheel. But accidents happen just as the word implies: accidentally. Unplanned. To protect others and yourself, try your best to avoid devices while on the road. Who knows? You may just be one less tally on the statistic this year.

Feel free to visit mnsafedriving.com to learn more information about staying safe on the road.

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