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A distracted driver ran a stop sign and broadsided another vehicle, at the intersection of Highway 71 and County Road 29, in Stearns County MN. The incident occurred at 7:40 pm with dry road conditions. The distracted driver was a 20-year old young man from Melrose MN driving a 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix. Police reports do not disclose the source of the distraction, but it is suspected he was using a cellphone. The Pontiac was driving westbound on CR 29 when the distracted the driver saw a stop sign. He attempted to break but skidded through the intersection striking a Mazda Protege driven by a middle-aged Minnesota man. The vehicle struck a “T” intersection sign then came to rest in a ditch. Thankfully, neither driver was seriously injured.

Distraction Factor in 58% of Crashes

Distracted driving, defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” In 2014 nearly half a million Americans were harmed or killed as a result of a distracted driver. Distracted driving is dangerous and on the rise, particularly among young drivers ages 16-24. Although distracted driving is not limited to cellphone use many young adults are using their phones behind the wheel for messaging, social media, playing music and/or navigation.

About twenty percent of all crashes involve a distracted driver, however, experts believe the actual number could be substantially greater. A majority of research on distracted driving is based on police reports. In 2015, AAA conducted a groundbreaking study of young drivers. The study used an in-vehicle event recorder (IVERs) to record what happened in the seconds prior to thousands of actual crashes. The device recorded video, audio, and accelerometer data which was triggered when the driver accelerated, braked quickly, or cornered fast. The result? Distracted driving was a factor in 58% of all observed crashes. Researchers also found that teens using a cellphone failed to react before impact more than half the time. Meaning they crashed without steering or braking.

What’s the law?

Laws governing distracted driving are determined by individual states. In Minnesota, it is illegal for all drivers to read, type, or send electronic messages on a cellphone while operating a vehicle that is in motion or part of traffic, including stopped at a stoplight. It is illegal for drivers under the age of 18 to use a cell phone at all while driving. Drivers using their phones behind the wheel can be ticketed for reckless or careless driving.

What legal action can I take if I am injured by a distracted driver?

Attorney Eric Hageman
Attorney Eric Hageman

Through filing a lawsuit an experienced attorney can help you recover evidence, like cellphone records, to prove the driver was distracted. Attorney Eric Hageman has handled multiple accident cases that involve distracted drivers, heartbreaking stories of people who have suffered immense harm some lost loved ones. These cases are as preventable as they are tragic. Eric explains, “Given that multiple studies have shown that drivers using cell phones have reaction times slower than even drunk drivers do, it is amazing that we aren’t doing more to solve this problem.  Would any of us feel safe driving around if we knew there were drunk drivers all over the roads?  Of course not. Yet for some reason, many of us tolerate drivers using their cell phones on the road.” For a free consultation contact Eric at [email protected] or 1–888-377-8900.