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Distracted Driving: An Epidemic

Category: Patient Stories
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Person Driving and Holding Their PhoneDistracted driving is now considered a major epidemic in America. In Minnesota, it’s a factor in one in four crashes, and in 2010, 411 people died and 31,176 were injured. Distracted driving is so great a hazard to our health and safety that the government has a website,, dedicated to preventing crashes and saving lives. Here at St. Luke’s, we are dedicated to helping make sure all family members are aware of the safety issues regarding distracted driving.

What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any time you take your eyes off the road (visual distraction), your hands off the wheel (manual distraction), or your mind off of driving safely (cognitive distraction). Each of these activities are considered distractions:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player

Texting Is Quick, How Can It Be Dangerous?
Texting can be the most dangerous because it involves all three of your most important driving assets – your hands, your eyes and your mind. Sending or reading a text takes 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field blindfolded.

The Law in Minnesota and Wisconsin
The Minnesota Safety Council has a number of resources to help you educate your family about driving safety. Below is an overview of the distracted driving laws in Minnesota and Wisconsin.


Ban on all cell phone use
(handheld or hands-free)
for novice drivers


Ban on texting for all drivers


Ban on all cell phone use
(handheld or hands-free)
for bus drivers


Talk To Your Teens and Be a Good Example
Prevention is an important part of family health. Drivers under the age of 25 are more likely to text or email while driving, and traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for American teenagers. Make sure everyone in your family is aware of the danger. There’s even a pledge and a teen action toolkit you can use to help teen awareness in your family and community.