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Dangers of distracted driving

There is a dangerous trend slowly expanding throughout Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety reports that one out of every five car accidents that happen in the state occurs as a result of distracted driving, which most often takes the form of texting while driving. 

In addition to texting, distracted driving can also encompass eating, applying makeup, shaving or changing a song while behind the wheel. Something as harmless as reading a billboard on the side of the road can quickly turn into an accident because you momentarily took your eyes off the road. 

Visual distraction

Your eyes should remain on the road in front of you at all times. Think of it this way: You would not close your eyes while behind the wheel, and yet many people will turn to talk to the passenger next to them or look at the scene of an accident. Rubbernecking is a genuine threat because people want to see the damage instead of what is in front of them. 

Cognitive distraction

Your brain can only process so much information at any given time. Minnesota law does not currently prevent people from talking on a cell phone while driving. However, even if someone talks on the phone through a handless, Bluetooth headset, they still put themselves in danger. Your attention is now on the conversation rather than the road. Both your hands may be on the wheel, but your mind is somewhere else. 

The consequences

Thousands of people in the United States lose their lives every year due to distracted driving, while even more suffer injuries. Even if you do not end up in an accident due to texting while driving, the police can issue you a ticket. Minnesota has a base fine of $50, with even more potential surcharges for a first offense. Ultimately, it is best to keep your phone far away from your hands and eyes while you are behind the wheel. 

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