Distracted Drivers Threaten the Lives of Minnesota Motorists

Hand-held and hands free cellphones are a significant source of driver distraction and can lead to serious car accidents, injuries and even death.

Cellphones are an essential tool that keeps many Americans connected to the world around them. The Pew Internet Research Group reported that as of April of 2015, approximately 64 percent of adult Americans own smartphones. These high-tech devices allow people to search the internet, post on social media, send text messages and even watch movies. Using a cellular device may seem harmless. However, Minnesota drivers who cannot refrain from using their cellphones while behind the wheel can cause devastating car accidents, which may cause permanent injury to other motorists on the road.

Distracted driving facts

Distracted driving took the lives of 3,154 people and injured 424,000 people in 2013, according to Distraction.gov. One of the major contributing factors to the high death and injury rate is cellphone use. People who talk or text while driving are subject to three types of distractions, including manual, visual and cognitive.

Manual distractions occur when drivers engage in activities that require them to remove their hands from the steering wheel. Visual distractions are tasks that take drivers eyes off of the road. Cognitive distractions, on the other hand, create a mental diversion. Texting is especially dangerous because it involves all three types of distractions. Research shows that cognitive distractions can be extremely deadly as well.

Hands free vs. hand-held cellphones

A number of states have enacted laws banning cellphone use while driving in an attempt to reduce the distracted driving fatality and injury rates. The Governors Highway Safety Association reported that 45 states, including Minnesota, ban motorists from texting and driving. Only 14 states, however, prohibit all drivers from talking on hand-held cellphones while behind the wheel. In Minnesota, it is illegal for bus and novice drivers to talk on hand-held or hands free cellular devices. Yet, all other drivers are able to legally engage in this cognitive distraction, as reported by Distraction.gov.

The National Safety Council reviewed over 30 studies on cellphone use and driving. The results showed that even hands free cellphones are a serious form of cognitive distraction and can increase the risk of being involved in a catastrophic incident. Hands free devices allow drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road. Yet, these cellphones remove the motorist's mental focus off of driving, which can cause them to 'not see' up to 50 percent of the information in their driving environment. Motorists who are talking on cellphones may have a decreased reaction time to driving hazards, pedestrian crosswalks, objects in the road, bad weather conditions and other motorists' reckless driving behaviors.

When to turn to an attorney

People who make bad choices while driving should be held accountable for the consequences of their actions. Injured victims of distracted driving accidents may want to seek the counsel of a personal injury attorney in Minnesota. A lawyer may be able to help you explore your legal options.

Keywords: distracted, driving, accident, injury