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Extra distracted driving campaign on Minnesota roads this month

So many distractions can make your mind wander these days, but when you are behind the wheel, it can be deadly.

To increase awareness and change dangerous behaviors, law enforcement agencies across Minnesota on Monday began a month-long extra distracted driving enforcement campaign that continues through April 30.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety coordinates the campaign with funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to a press release. The campaign includes advertising across Minnesota in support of the statewide Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety initiative.

Lost in thought, phones, changing the music, dropping something on the floor or disciplining a child in the back seat are all real distractions, and they can lead to life-changing events.

“Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution when it comes to distracted driving,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “Start by setting a good example for your kids or anyone in the vehicle by parking the phone. And the next time you start to do something else behind the wheel that isn’t driving, remember how you feel about other motorists doing the same thing. Don’t let distracted driving wreck you. Drive smart by always paying attention behind the wheel.”

Drive smart

Driving smart and focusing 100% of your attention on the road can help avoid tragedy for everyone sharing the road. Distracted driving contributes to an average of 31 deaths and 192 life-changing injuries a year, according to data from 2016 through 2020.

Driving smart means parking the phone, setting the GPS and music before driving, keeping your eyes on the road during a conversation, not reaching down for an object on the floor and not eating messy food that could spill and take your attention off the road, among others. Driving smart simply means putting all the distractions away and focusing on the road.

Ways to reduce distractions

• Cell phones: Park the phone by putting it down, turning it off, placing it out of reach or going hands free.

• Music and other controls: Pre-program radio stations and arrange music in an easy-to-access spot. Adjust mirrors and ventilation before traveling.

• Navigation: Map out the destination and enter the GPS route in advance.

• Eating and drinking: Avoid messy foods and secure drinks.

• Children: Teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle and model proper driving behavior.

• Passengers: Speak up to stop drivers from distracted-driving behavior and offer to help with anything that takes the driver’s attention off the road.