Even though distracted driving is usually associated with younger drivers, anyone can be guilty. Veteran truck drivers have caused devastating accidents while talking on the phone while behind the wheel, or even trying to send a text. Even a momentary lack of focus while operating a vehicle can have catastrophic results.
Distracted driving is a real problem. Not only in Minneapolis, but throughout Minnesota and the US. If you’ve been hurt in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you may be able to obtain a significant amount of compensation. Contact Sand Law to get in touch with one of our distracted driving lawyers. We have decades of experience representing clients who’ve been injured due to the negligence of others. And we’re ready to put that experience to work for you.
Minneapolis Distracted Driving Statistics
No matter what time of the year it may be, whether it’s a beautiful summer day or a frigid day in the middle of winter, distracted driving is always a huge issue. This is especially the case in a big city such as Minneapolis.
An average of 166 people either lose their lives, or are severely injured, in Minneapolis traffic accidents. Distracted driving is one of the five behaviors that are most often blamed on these crashes. Others include speeding, running red lights, failing to yield the right-of-way, and driving while impaired. It’s estimated that 9% of deaths in Minneapolis vehicle accidents in 2016 occurred due to distracted driving – and 14% of those fatalities were attributed to use of a cell phone.
The problem is just as bad in other areas of the state. An astounding 39,000 wrecks due to distracted driving took place between 2016-2020 – one out of every nine accidents. There were 155 fatalities during this time frame, and another 960 serious injuries.
The numbers for the United States as a whole are just as disturbing. In 2019 alone, 3,100 people lost their lives, and another 424,000 were severely hurt in accidents that were blamed on distracted driving. Amazingly, about 20% of the people who were killed in distracted driving-related accidents weren’t even in a vehicle. They were either riding a bike, walking, or outside of a car for some other reason.
Types of Distractions That Lead to Car Accidents
There are obviously far too many car accidents in Minnesota each year, no matter what the cause. But when someone is hurt or tragically killed just because someone couldn’t keep their focus on the road, that makes an accident that much worse. The three main types of distractions are manual, visual and cognitive. Here’s a brief look at each.
This is where someone takes their hand off of a steering wheel, even for just a moment. Examples include drinking and eating, changing the radio station, getting something out of a wallet or purse, or smoking a cigarette. Any of these behaviors could quickly lead to a driver losing control of their vehicle.
Minnesota is obviously a beautiful state, and there’s a lot to see in Minneapolis. But save your sightseeing for when you’re in the passenger seat. Visual distractions also include checking a handheld device, using your phone, and turning your head to talk to someone in the car.
This is any type of distraction that involves losing focus on the task at hand – driving in the safest manner possible. This could mean talking or texting, being preoccupied with your job, or simply staring out the window daydreaming. Even though your eyes are on the road, your mind is somewhere else. And that’s can be dangerous for everyone involved. Without proper focus, it’ll be harder to react to a sudden change in the road.
Distracted Driving Laws in Minneapolis
The law is very clear in regard to distracted driving in Minneapolis and throughout Minnesota. The state’s so-called “Hands Free” law imposes severe penalties for those who drive while reading or sending texts and/or emails while their vehicle is either in motion, or part of the flow of traffic.
Even a first offense can cost more than $120, while second and subsequent tickets will cost violators more than $300. This is in addition to a very likely increase in their auto insurance rates. But the penalties get exponentially more serious if a violator hurts or kills someone while violating the Hands Free law. If this happens, they could be charged with criminal vehicular operation or even homicide.
Proving the At-Fault Driver was Distracted
There are a lot of things you’ll need to know if you’re ever involved in an accident caused by a distracted driver. Maybe the most important is that if you’re going to have a chance to obtain the compensation you deserve, you’re going to have to prove the driver’s distraction directly led to your injury.
In order to do that, you’re going to need the help of a skilled attorney.
The best way to prove the at-fault driver was texting and driving will be to obtain their phone records. If there were witnesses, they may be able to testify that the driver was using their phone at the time of the wreck. Nearby surveillance cameras may have also caught footage of what led to the accident. An attorney will be able to not only get those phone records, but also any surveillance camera footage that could help strengthen your case.
How to Avoid Distracted Driving Accidents
There are a lot of very simple things that people can do to reduce the risk of causing a distracted driving accident. The easiest is to just turn off their smartphone while driving. Others include having a passenger act as their navigator (instead of looking at a GPS device), and only eating and drinking when you’re in a restaurant parking lot, or at a rest stop.