As More Runners Take to Northland Roads, Drivers Must Put Phones Away
Fitger's 5K was last Saturday and for many Northland runners, that is a catalyst to kick their training into high gear for Grandma's Marathon races and more. As more runners and people in general take to the streets, drivers must be more diligent about not texting while driving.
From April 9 - April 22, Minnesota had more than 300 law enforcement agencies statewide conducting extra distracted driving enforcement. While that campaign has ended, the fact that distracted driving kills people remains.
According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, texting citations climbed nearly 23 percent from 2016 to 2017. Distracted driving contributes to one in five crashes in Minnesota and contributes to an average of 59 deaths and 223 serious injuries a year.
I like to run outside and I have witnessed countless drivers looking down at their phones as they drive by me, which is very concerning. It only takes one bad decision by a driver to cause an irreversible tragedy, which is why I'm all for Minnesota's "No Texting Law".
Minnesota’s “No Texting” law makes it illegal for drivers to read, send texts and emails, and access the web while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic. That includes sitting at a stoplight or stop sign.
Penalties for violating the law include:
- $50 plus court fees for a first offense.
- $275 plus court fees for a second and/or subsequent offense.
- If you injure or kill someone because of texting and driving, you can face a felony charge of criminal vehicular operation or homicide.
I admit that I have been guilty of sending and reading a text while driving in the past, but then I decided I was smarter than that and that no text is worth killing someone or myself over. I simply zip my phone away in my jacket, or place it in a compartment in my vehicle where I can't see it, then I leave it there until I'm done driving.
If everyone we know does the same, the roads will be a lot safer place for runners, bicyclists, walkers, kids and, to put it simply, everyone.